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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 6, 2016.
About this Poem 

“Prince’s death hit me hard. It brought me closer to his music, and to a confusing, beautiful time, at fifteen, when I played ‘Adore’ on repeat; the italicized lines are from the song. This poem is for my friends Sabina Piersol and Miguel Murphy, who love Prince so much.”
—Randall Mann

Alphabet Street

Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958–2016


“Adore” was my song
Back in ’87—
Cool beans, I liked to say,
Desperately uncool.
Except for you.
Florida, a dirty hand
Gesture; the state, pay dirt.
Headphones on, I heard,
In a word, you were sex,
Just in time. Who was I
Kidding? Then, as now,
Love is too weak to define.
Mostly I just ran,
Not yet sixteen,
Overreaching. Track star,
Pretty uniform.
Queer, of course. Adore.
Rewind: my beloved teammates
Sometimes called me Cinnamon
Toast Crunch, or CTC, being neither black nor white.
Until the end of time.
Vanity would never do it for me.
Would you? You were definite, the
X in my fix. And now,
You’re gone. The old, on repeat. The new
Zeal: zero.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Randall Mann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Randall Mann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Randall Mann

Randall Mann

Randall Mann is the author of Straight Razor (Persea Books, 2013). He lives in San Francisco.

by this poet

poem

Out of the fog comes a little white bus.
It ferries us south to the technical mouth
of the bay. This is biopharma, Double Helix Way.

In the gleaming canteen, mugs have been
dutifully stacked for our dismantling,
a form of punishment.

Executives take the same elevator as I.

poem
?
is only something on which to hang
your long overcoat; the slender snake asleep
in the grass; the umbrella by the door;

the black swan guarding the pond.
This ? has trouble in mind: do not ask
why the wind broods, why the light is so unclean.

It is summer, the rhetoric of the field,
its yellow grasses,
poem
          in memory of Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, and Tyler Clementi

There are those who suffer in plain sight,
there are those who suffer in private.
Nothing but secondhand details:
a last shower, a request for a pen, a tall red oak.

There are those who suffer in private.
The one in Tehachapi,