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Tin Prophets. ©2015 Gary Jackson and David Willet

[End Page 87]


I can be onyx under starless sky. I rollout of bed. I can be hot night

when even talking makes a body sweat.I can be smog-streaked window,dirty reflection. Seoul welcomes me

like any stranger. I can be neon: holy crossoutlined in red, love motel pinkshining brighter. I can be lightning,

can be boy, can be man,be shadow. TonightI want to walk, be a bottle

half-drunk, chipped glass, another round.Be doorman to darkness

because any metropolis wears me downover time. I can be your shotof bourbon, your favoritesuperhero, let me be

foreigner, your favorite kin, thinmachinery worn to good use.

I can be weapon,can be sand, can be camera,be black-eyedaperture, be polite, be empty

bottle, be a wreck of a manwhen I put my mind to it,when I don’t.

*italicized lines from Nikky Finney’s “Instruction, Final: To Brown Poets from Black Girl with Silver Leica.” [End Page 88]


For those of us who live at the shoreline /standing upon the constant edges of decision / crucial and alone

—Audre Lorde, “A Litany for Survival”

With that jive bunch of turkeys in the JLA? Forget it!!

—Black Lightning, Justice League of America #173

There’s one boy on fire and another drowning. You only get to save one for your final exam, so you lift the wet boy from the lake and don’t realize your mistake until Superman touches down, sorry son, we can’t have

someone who chooses their own over everyone else. The boy’s brown fingers hold tight to your emblem, leave wet impressions on your chest. Next year the same, and the same after that. Every time you choose wrong. Blame it

on empire. Superman, his arm wrung around your neck, we’re trying to save the world here, his eyes pure blue, confirming what you already knew: you always save the ones never meant to survive. [End Page 89]

Gary Jackson

Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Gary Jackson is the author of the poetry collection Missing You, Metropolis, which received the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Callaloo, Tin House, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. He is an Assistant Professor at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC.



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