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About this poet

Danez Smith was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received an MFA from the University of Michigan. Smith is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), which was short-listed for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Smith lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

it won’t be a bullet

becoming a little moon—brightwarm in me one night.
thank god. i can go quietly. the doctor will explain death
& i’ll go practice.
 
in the catalogue of ways to kill a black boy, find me
buried between the pages stuck together
with red stick. ironic, predictable. look at me.
 
i’m not the kind of black man who dies on the news.
i’m the kind who grows thinner & thinner & thinner
until light outweighs us, & we become it, family
gathered around my barely body telling me to go
toward myself.
 

From Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017) Copyright © 2017 by Danez Smith. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org.

From Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017) Copyright © 2017 by Danez Smith. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org.

Danez Smith

Danez Smith

Danez Smith is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017) and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014).

by this poet

poem
say it with your whole black mouth: i am innocent
           & if you are not innocent, say this: i am worthy of forgiveness, of breath after breath

i tell you this: i let blue eyes dress me in guilt
walked around stores convinced the very skin of my palm was stolen

& what
2
poem
your body still your body
your arms still wing
your mouth still a gun
 
          you tragic, misfiring bird
 
you have all you need to be a hero
don’t save the world, save yourself
 
you worship too much & you worship
poem
let ruin end here
 
let him find honey
where there was once a slaughter
 
let him enter the lion’s cage
& find a field of lilacs
 
let this be the healing
& if not   let it be