We’ve been sprawled on the old wood bridge for hours.
Our young palms are splintered now by twisted boards and the tops
of our feet sting,
from the biting chill whipping our bare skin.

I’m more scared than you are.
You’re more scared than anything.

Icy gray clouds shift endlessly above our sweet warm breaths:
mine wasted on childish trivialities
and yours blessed with provocative profundities.

We wade in half-frozen water in the woods by where we are grow-
ing up.

This is the place I will stagnate
and it is almost winter
and our world is still big.

Emmett Till

Based on the painting “Open Casket” by Dana Schutz, 2016

Inside the open casket lies a Black boy
Whose face tells his-story
An innocent Black boy who was supposed to—
Live a sweet childhood
Yet, there it lies
His mutilated face
Upon the pillow of grief
All hopes of tomorrow
Lost in his Black suit of sorrow
His torso buttoned up
By the whiteness of his killers
His pants carrying the blood
Of a flower that had yet to grow
His name was Emmett
Till – one day two men
The same color as his bed of flowers
Wanted him dead
Because the color of his Skin
Screamed unworthy kin.
May you rest well, Black boy,
And please say hello for us to Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin,
Along with the rest of the Emmett Tills that society has killed—
If you will, Emmett Till.

Dirty Water

And with my own eyes I see her,
breast teasing the orange creek,
head cocked backwards,
anchoring it softly
into the water
that Sam calls shit water,
that my dad calls golden river.
Toes pressed against the rusting dock,
little moles sitting on her legs like flies,
she hums.
I shake,
tossing gravel into the empty ginger ale can beside me,
knees in the wet dirt.
I steady myself
to the rhythm of the train.
She can not feel it
the throbbing beat
pulsating underneath,
balancing on the tracks that once carried
Franklin D Roosevelt
and Billy, whose needle went too far up his arm
so they took him to Earnshaw,
no more spots in the yard.
They sit in leather seats
that smell like pink erasers and cigarettes
and stare out those windows
with uneasy eyes and packed lunches,
thanking god they don’t have to stop
and stay in Littleton, West Virginia.
But they don’t get to watch her
with their own eyes,
this heaven at 6pm,
this dying, bird like creature, kicking,
teaching herself to swim
in the dirty water.