National Poetry Month Day 27: Shane McCrae


Banjo Yes Plucks an Apple from a Tree in a Park

-For Tamir Rice


I hold an apple in my hand on set

It is     or ain’t     an apple ain’t a real

Apple depending on     am I in the shot

Or am I watching with the crew     a real


Apple don’t taste no sweeter than a movie

Apple it ain’t     crisper     but it’s some better

A nigger eats an apple in a movie

It ain’t no apple it’s a big     fat     water-


melon man it’s fried chicken it’s all that

Bullshit     a nigger eats but he ain’t eating

No nigger in no movie ever got

Hungry and ate and it was just him eating


No nigger tells the story of himself

Man even if I hate a nigger what

He loves is what I love     I ask myself

Before I do     anything it don’t mat-


ter what it is Who’s watching me     and What

They gonna think they see     I waste my mind

Trying to read white folks’ minds     I’ll tell you what

An apple is     it’s death     it’s my child dead


–Shane McCrae


Shane McCrae has published four books of poems—most recently, The Animal Too Big to Kill (Persea Books, 2015). He teaches at Oberlin College and Spalding University, and has received a Whiting Writer’s Award and a fellowship from the NEA. He lives in Oberlin, Ohio.

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →