Tonight, in Oakland

I did not come here to sing a blues.
Lately, I open my mouth

& out comes marigolds, yellow plums.
I came to make the sky a garden.

Give me rain or give me honey, dear lord.
The sky has given us no water this year.

I ride my bike to a boy, when I get there
what we make will not be beautiful

or love at all, but it will be deserved.
I’ve started seeking men to wet the harvest.

Come, tonight I declare we must move
instead of pray. Tonight, east of here,
two boys, one dressed in what could be blood

& one dressed in what could be blood
before the wound, meet & mean mug

& God, tonight, let them dance! Tonight,
the bullet does not exist. Tonight, the police

have turned to their God for forgiveness.
Tonight, we bury nothing, we serve a God

with no need for shovels, we serve a God
with a bad hip & a brother in prison.

Tonight, let every man be his own lord.
Let wherever two people stand be a reunion

of ancient lights. Let’s waste the moon’s marble glow
shouting our names to the stars until we are

the stars. O, precious God! O, sweet black town!
I am drunk & I thirst. When I get to the boy

who lets me practice hunger with him
I will not give him the name of your newest ghost

I will give him my body & what he does with it
is none of my business, but I will say look,

I made it a whole day, still, no rain
still, I am without exit wound

& he will say Tonight, I want to take you
how the police do, unarmed & sudden

& tonight, when we dream, we dream of dancing
in a city slowly becoming ash.

Credit: Danez Smith, “Tonight, in Oakland.” Copyright © 2015 by Danez Smith.
Source: PoetryNow (PoetryNow, 2015)

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