Preface to a Twenty-Volume Regicide Note
after Krista Franklin after Amiri Baraka
Lately, I've become accustomed to the way
each newly dead face flashes like a crushed fire
-work across the screen. The red mass
of each name. How each name settles,
a fistful of ash at the back of the throat.
I don't hope for ceasefire much, if you
must know. I don't pray for rain.
On a good day, I honor the war
by calling it war. I sing
along with the hook. I sing
every nigga is a star
& don't mean dead
things shine too. For shame,
my six-year-old nephew dreams
of a life indebted to invention,
his first prototype a blade
-thin suit to help the human body move
faster. For a muse, he claims nothing
more than the implicit sweetness of speed,
but I know his best heart, how he longs
for cousins to grow gray as an alloy alongside.
I think him a prophet. I think of the fire.
I think of the drones with pictures of first wives
in their wallets, their bad teeth, middle names,
401ks for when all of the blood dries. I think
of the badge & see children running,
children laughing, children cradled
in smoke all at the exact same time.
On a good day, I think die die die
and don't know where to aim
the hex, who to hunt down or cut
a deal with, some armistice
without end, a certain commitment
to infinitude built right into the fine
print, in an unexpected turn.
I don't want any more words
that heal. I want a language for being
born underground, gravestone quarried
the moment you arrive. I want explosions
or else a fresh cosmos. I want the fang
-white king splayed
against a throne of bones
& bars I see in all my new dreams
gone. Spare me any coalition
that does not require blood.
Give me time to think & a hope
-less cause. Give me lethal
equipment. Give me the names
of the slain. Say each name
like benediction. Ask
who will claim this flesh?
Expect the quiet.
Expect the flood.
- Joshua Bennett (from Guernica)