By Danez Smith Danez Smith
Have I spent too much time worrying about the boys
killing each other to pray for the ones who do it
with their own hands?

Is that not black on black violence?
Is that not a mother who has to bury her boy?

Is it not the same play?
The same plot & characters?

            The curtain rises, then:

                          a womb
                          a boy
                          a night emptied of music
                          a trigger
                          a finger
                          a bullet



It always drives the crowd to their feet.

An encore
of boy after boy
after sweet boy            — their endless, bloody bow.

They throw dirt on the actors like roses
until the boys are drowned by the earth

& the audience doesn’t remember
what they’re standing for.

Source: Poetry (March 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2014
 Danez  Smith


Danez Smith was born St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of [insert] Boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Lambda Literary Award, and the chapbook hands on ya knees (Penmanship Books, 2013). Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, Voices of Our Nation (VONA) and elsewhere. He is a founding member of the multigenre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. His writing has appeared . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, The Body, Time & Brevity, Youth, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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