Incident

By Amiri Baraka 1934–2014 Amiri Baraka
He came back and shot. He shot him. When he came   
back, he shot, and he fell, stumbling, past the   
shadow wood, down, shot, dying, dead, to full halt.

At the bottom, bleeding, shot dead. He died then, there   
after the fall, the speeding bullet, tore his face   
and blood sprayed fine over the killer and the grey light.

Pictures of the dead man, are everywhere. And his spirit   
sucks up the light. But he died in darkness darker than   
his soul and everything tumbled blindly with him dying

down the stairs.   

We have no word

on the killer, except he came back, from somewhere   
to do what he did. And shot only once into his victim's
stare, and left him quickly when the blood ran out. We know

the killer was skillful, quick, and silent, and that the victim   
probably knew him. Other than that, aside from the caked sourness   
of the dead man's expression, and the cool surprise in the fixture

of his hands and fingers, we know nothing.

Amiri Baraka, “Incident” from Black Magic (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: Black Magic (1969)

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Poet Amiri Baraka 1934–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Crime & Punishment, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Amiri  Baraka

Biography

Poet, writer, teacher, and political activist Amiri Baraka was born Everett LeRoi Jones in 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. He attended Rutgers University and Howard University, spent three years in the U.S. Air Force, and returned to New York City to attend Columbia University and the New School for Social Research. Baraka was well known for his strident social criticism, often writing in an incendiary style that made it difficult . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Crime & Punishment, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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