National Poetry Month Day 30: Joshua Aiken






Dark-skinned boys in
a field. On one. Wind
matters. I won’t follow
him, I’m supposed

to shield, man: us
made out of my ability
to stay with him, to not
get left behind as he

breaks, turns his back,
places himself, boy
who is my man. Boy,
am I scared he will out

man me. Beautiful, tied
score. I am not afraid
to lose, just fail
the assignment. I love

him too much but not
enough to let him go.
I have my man and, boy,
is he beautiful. Won’t he

crash? Our skin liturgies,
jukes, fakes, formations,
cymbals, sickle-cell song
traits: hi-hats splashing

and potential him bets
on our release. Shoulders
clash: guard him, I think
but I am betting on this

route; slant, curl, fly—
we’ve got a ground game
he teases with my eyes.
Boy is he beautiful, man

to man, he is coming
to mirror—



Author photo by Marcus Jackson

Joshua Aiken is a poet and black studies scholar. His poetry appears in Boulevard, Copper Nickel, Forklift, Ohio, Sixth Finch, Winter Tangerine Review, and elsewhere. His academic research appears in Transgender Studies Quarterly and he has received scholarships and fellowships from the Point Foundation, Rhodes Trust, Vermont Studio Center and Cave Canem. He is the former Policy Fellow at the Prison Policy Initiative and a Teaching Fellow with the Yale Prison Education Initiative. At the University of Oxford, he received graduate degrees in forced migration studies and history; he currently is a JD/PhD candidate at Yale. More from this author →