National Poetry Month Day 26: Cameron Awkward-Rich

By

 

 

 

Anti-Elegy

She was:

33, bullet.
35, bullet.
20, bullet.
25, stabbed to death & run over by a car.
66 blade.
22 bullet.
17 fist.
36 blade.
blade.
blade.
bullet.
bullet.
bullet
stone
found dead in a field
overdose
bullet
unknown
rope
stone
stone
bullet
oncoming traffic
his own good hands…

 

 

 

 

& it becomes a kind of music, doesn’t it?
Senseless litany, field of roses, blood red
upturned skirts. I open my mouth & here,
the pith of me. Here, a flock of names, a girl
spilling out onto the street.

 

 

 

 

The trouble with elegy
is that it asks the dead

to live, it calls them back.
& who am I to say rise?

Walk again among those
who could not bear

the sight of you? Your body.
Your one good dress.

Today, someone will walk into the night
& then become it. Someone’s heart

will crowd with beloved ghosts
& who am I to say, dance

with me here a little longer? Never mind
the bloodshed darling, never mind.

Never mind.

 

 

 

 

Once, a man said mine
& a woman became an empty room.

Once, a man said mine
& the ocean split & the endless passage.

Once, a man said mine
& there’s a genocide –

how strange. To make the world
with language. To wield desire

as a weapon. To watch one nation burn
& another rise up at your feet.

Once, a girl looked in the mirror
& called herself, said my name is

said I am / I am & a man said
mine / mine / mine

 

 

 

 

I have so many questions:

Who are

What does

Why

How does it feel to

I’m sorry, I just think

I

And, define

I’m sorry

Your anger

You’re afraid of

Can fear be

Define

knife

Define

Fear is

Please

Forgive

me      


Cameron Awkward-Rich is the author of Sympathetic Little Monster and Dispatch, forthcoming from Persea Books in Fall 2019. A poet and critic, Cam is a Cave Canem fellow, a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine, and an assistant professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. More from this author →