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Recorded for Poem-a-Day February 8, 2019.
About this Poem 

“The details aren’t important to the prayer. What locks the reader out also welcomes them closer. This prayer is living—one of protection but also transformation. Prayer is the will’s essay, the spirit’s attempt.”
—Donte Collins

Prayer Severing the Cycle

for Tomica

My love is as ancient as my blood.
 
And of course my blood is still mine
 
because a woman, sweetened black
 
with good song, pulled me from the river
 
like an axe pulled back from the bark.
 
I learned love, first, as scar.
 
And of course my love is only mine
 
because I found the nerve to say it is.
 
Ha, My love is mine.
 
But was first my mother’s. Not the how
 
but the why. But was first her mother’s.
 
Not the how but the why.
 
Not the how; Not the how; Not the how;
Not the how; Not the how; Not the how.
 
I am bored with this beat. I seek
 
a different dance toward death.
 
Lord, listen up. Lean in:
 
I crave a love that happens as sweetly
 
as it was named. If love must be swung,
 
let it soften. Not split.

Copyright © 2019 by Donte Collins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 8, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2019 by Donte Collins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 8, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Donte Collins

Donte Collins

Donte Collins received the 2016 Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award for his poem “what the dead know by heart.”

by this poet

poem

lately, when asked how are you, i
respond with a name no longer living

Rekia, Jamar, Sandra

i am alive by luck at this point. i wonder
often: if the gun that will unmake me
is yet made, what white birth

will bury me, how many bullets, like a
flock of blue jays,