notes

dear suicide

how is the war? is it eating?
tell me of the girls charging
backwards into dumb tides
death’s wet mouth lapping
their ankles, knees, eyebrows.
tell me of the sissies like drunk
fireworks, rocketing into earth
afterimage burned into river
& cement memory.
how is the war? does it have
a wife? does she know how
the bodies got in her bed?

dear suicide

i know your real name.
i bind you from doing harm.
i enter the room like a germ.
i say your name, it is my name.
the walls cave around me like a good aunt.
the window hums. the door rocks me.
the dresser leaves to go make tea.
the room knows my name.
it binds us from doing harm.

dear suicide

where are you keeping my friends?
every cup i turn over holds only air.
i jimmy open a tulip expecting their faces
but find only the yellow heart.
what have you done with them?
yesterday i took my body off
beat it on the front steps with a broom
& not one of them
came giggling out my skin
yelling you found me!
not one of them i called for
was already in my hand.

dear suicide

you a mutual friend
a wedding guest, a kind
of mother, a kind of self
love, a kind of freedom.
i wish you were a myth
but mothers my color
have picked ocean
over boat, have sent
children to school
in rivers. i known niggas
who just needed
quiet. i seen you
dance, it made me hard.
i would not deny you
what others have found
in the sweet mildew
behind your ear. i know
what happens when you
ask for a kiss, it’s all
tongue, you don’t
unlatch, you suck
face until the body
is gone.

dear suicide

that one? i promised him
i would kill for him
& my nigga was my nigga
& my word is my word.
dear suicide, where are you?
come see me. come outside.
i am at your door, suicide.
i’ll wait. i’ve offed my earrings
& vaselined my face. i put on
my good sweats for this.
i brought no weapon but my fist.

dear suicide

you made my kin thin air.
his entire body dead as hair.
you said his name like a dare.
you’ve done your share.
i ride down lake street friendbare
to isles of lakes, wet pairs
stare back & we compare
our mirror glares. fish scare
into outlines, i blare
a moon’s wanting, i wear
their faces on t-shirts, little flares
in case i bootleg my own prayer
& submit to your dark affair.
tell me they’re in your care.
be fair.
heaven or hell, i hope my niggas all there
if i ever use the air as a stair.

More Poems by Danez Smith