praise song

By Nate Marshall Nate Marshall
praise the Hennessy, the brown
shine, the dull burn. praise
the dare, the take it, the no face
you’re supposed to make.
praise the house, its many rooms,
hardwood and butter leather couches;
its richness. praise the rich, their friendship.
praise the friends: the child of the well off,
the child of the well off, the child of  well,
the child of welfare, the child of welfare.
praise the diversity but praise the Hennessy,
and again,           and again.           praise
the new year upon us. praise my stumble,
the shaky eye, the fluid arm, but the steady
hand. praise my hand, the burning it has.
praise the dive into the gut of a friend; the dousing
of my hand in his ribs. praise the softness of skin,
the way it always gives.

praise the pulling, the calming down.

praise the fuck that, the jump back into all
five of my friends fist first. praise all
five of my friends pinning me into the thick
carpet, knees in my back. praise my back,
how it hurts and raises anyway, how it flips,
how it’s the best friend of my fists.
praise the swinging pool cue, how it whips
air like a disobedient child, praise the disobedient
and all the chilling           i won’t do.
praise the child smile on my face, the fun
plunging a knee into a cheek of my best friend.
praise his blood, the brightness of it, a sun i bask in.
praise my blood, the nose flowing wild with effort,
the mess and taste of it, praise the swallowing,
salt and its sweetness.

praise the morning, the impossible blue,
Midwestern  January above us. praise
the blues dulled in my denim by all
the brown. praise the brown shine, the dull

praise all six in my jeans, our salt
and life sitting dry on my thighs
mixing, refusing to wash away.

Source: Poetry (October 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2013
 Nate  Marshall


Nate Marshall is from the South Side of Chicago. His first book, Wild Hundreds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. He is a coeditor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (2015). His rap album, Grown, is due out in 2015 with his group Daily Lyrical Product. He is a visiting assistant professor at Wabash College. He earned his MFA at the University of Michigan, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Life Choices, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Social Commentaries, Class

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.