For People Confusing Young Black Men, Like Myself, with Deer During Hunting Season:
Written in Response to George Zimmerman’s Exoneration By the Florida State Court
by Nahshon Cook
Last night, I sat in my room like a Mongolian lark looking out the window from behind the bars
of its bamboo cage at a sparrow in the tree–and feeling like a flower pot that never leaves the
front porch, while I prayed to Erato for a story that would make me human again. She arrived
dressed in a pair of big, carrot-orange butterfly wings outlined in white, polka-dotted black trim.
After I'd grabbed something to write with, she recited this poem for me:
I see you, She said, there, trying to look away from the convicting eyes of that nigger dangling
from Lady Liberty's right wrist. The whip that jolted the buckboard forward and caused that
nigger's neck to snap like a twig was the lion's roar. In India they say: Sometimes the lion must
roar to remind the horse of its fear. You won't be able to stop looking at that nigger until that
nigger's body stops swaying in the breeze. Life is worth more than a price. That nigger is you.
Stop running from your demons, She said. Demons are the shit from which angels bloom and
heal the refugeed undead exiled in your heart–with love's true aloe, like a shaman. Goodbye.
Nahshon Cook is an American poet currently living in China.
This poem originally appeared in issue 12 .