The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2021

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APRIL 2021 Issue
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A Sketch about Genocide

A San Francisco police chief says, “Yes, you poets make points. But they are all silly,”

Police chief sowing a mouth onto a mouth
Police chief looking straight through the poet

Flesh market both sides of the levy
Change of plans both sides of the nonviolence

                                                    On no earth
                                                     Just an earth character

His subordinate says, “Awkward basketball moves look good on you, sir... Yes, we are everywhere, sir… yes, unfortunately for now, white people only have Black History … we will slide the wallpaper right into their cereal bowls, sir … Surveil the shuffle.”

I am a beggar and all of this day is too easy
I want to see all of the phases of a wall
Every age it goes through
                                        Its humanity
                                        Its environmental racism

We call this the ordeal blues
Now crawl to the piano seat and make a blanket for your cell
Paint scenes of a child dancing up to the court appearance
And leaving a man,
                           but not for home

Atlantic ocean charts mixed in with parole papers
Mainstream funding (the ruling class’s only pacifism)

Ruling class printing judges (fiat kangaroos)
Making judges hand over fist
Rapture cop packs and opposition whites all above a thorny stem
Caste plans picked out like vans for the murder show
anglo-saints addicting you to a power structure

you want me to raise a little slave, don’t you?
bash his little brain in
and send him to your civil rights

No pain
Just a white pain

Delicate bullets in a box next to a stack of monolith scriptures
(makes these bullets look relevant, don’t it?)

                                                                                                               I remember you
                                    Everywhere you lay your hat is the capital of the south
                                                              The posture you introduced to that fence
                                                        The fence you introduced to political theory

                                                                                       If you shred my dreams, son
                                                                                        I will tack you to gun smoke

                                                                                The suburbs are finally offended

                                                                                         this will be a meditation too


Tongo Eisen-Martin

Tongo Eisen-Martin is the Poet Laureate of San Francisco, California. He is the author of Heaven Is All Goodbyes (City Lights Books, 2017), which was shortlisted for the Griffin International Poetry Prize, received the California Book Award for Poetry, an American Book Award, and a PEN Oakland Book Award. He is also the author of someone’s dead already (Bootstrap Press, 2015). Blood on the Fog, a new collection of poems, was published by City Lights in September 2021.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2021

All Issues