The Rumpus Inaugural Poems: Julian Randall


Each day from January 7 through January 20, Rumpus Original Poems will feature work in response to the coming presidential inauguration. Today’s poem is from Julian Randall.


Poem in Which the Metaphor is Probably Too Obvious

A Black church is burned in Mississippi
and spray painted Vote Trump

It’s a pretty obvious metaphor from here
right? ___Brimstone ___Armageddon

Bullets____ their copper beaks
Kissing midflight____ smoke flies to migrate

And this is what I know of inheritance
the town is named Greenville

I know this because the news says
what my blood already knew

My great grandfather was “from”

In the way rubble is “from”
a building

Or the way that a casket is “from”
a life

Still too obvious? Ok that’s fair
let’s try again

My great grandfather was pale
as a surrender

or white like a set of massive wings
whispering home

My great grandfather owned a store
because he looked white

The presumption of the body
is a shoddy prayer to hide in

The town found out and calmly told him
he had 24 hours

or they would tar and feather him
presumably to death

smoke flies to migrate ___I always say
Smoke ___when I mean ___Family

I live 131 miles from Greenville
a choice ___that put ash in my mother

And her cereal __while an epidemic
of red caps dripped out

The mouth of a swelling kind of country
like a neglected cavity humming

a blues that sounds like a child spoken
for the last time

and surely___ the metaphor is exhausting
itself in your mouth

surely you are waiting for some inevitable use
of Holy or Sacred or Wrong or America

So I will settle for Expected
and say I am surprised

It took the fire (which touched my Great Grandfather’s foot
in a way that can only make us cousins) so long

to say
Welcome home

– Julian Randall


Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. A Pushcart Prize nominee he has received fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT and the Watering Hole and was the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. Julian is the curator of Winter Tangerine Review’s Lineage of Mirrors and a poetry editor for Freezeray Magazine. He is also a cofounder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Nepantla, Rattle Poets Respond, Ninth Letter, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol and African Voices among others. He is a candidate for his MFA in Poetry at Ole Miss.

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