For the Dead Homie

by Danez Smith

bury me under your heft of titles
love who makes me rude to other loves
love who make me like me like me
rose sweet chemical in the blood
tender wind that makes the brain blush
storm that scares the storm away
in me—a monument to your fray
in you—a trap door back to myself
before holy there was your grace
Christ of the random Wednesday
a world without you is not a world
thy terrain & bounty include my hands
my main. brighter light in a room of light
when you went I choked the dirt


when you went I choked on dirt
i ate my way to Australia, i smoked
i bent the night around my shoulders
i dressed in headlights & sirens
i thought about it, i put the pills back
i burned the medicine cabinet, burned
the house, burned the city, burned
the last years down cinders & drank
yes I drank them down, i wanted to be
bloated with fact: you are not
a thing I can touch, a voice i can call
a shot at the bar, a shot at making it big
but didn’t you? didn’t you make it big, fam?
aren’t you all of it now? i call for God.
i call for God but out comes your name


i call for God & out comes your name
& then your blood next, wraps its weight
around your christening. next, bone
colored seeds plant themselves in you
& become bones, bloom fields of muscle
& organs for orchids, little dandelions
that dry into skin. next come seeds
for your eyes, a seed for your voice
seed that makes you dance, a seed
that looks like your mother, and a boy
a boy comes flying right out my mouth
burrows root prayer into your chest
& had he always been there? the boy
beautiful & waiting for someone to see?


beautiful & waiting by some sea
purple with the waves of your laugh
your frequency somewhere between
sound & light, bright note singing dawn
to make it to you would be a Mecca.
somewhere, you are city with a boy
in every window, calling down to me
i call back, our voices fat the air
with nectarines, you laugh so hard
you become the wind & every ribbon it holds
your body is all silk & all air, you are in my hair
you are an opal braid, an amethyst twist
give me that kind of heaven—I’ll breathe
you in, you nourish & strangle


i breathe you. in you, i nourish. strangle
your name out my mouth if you could
but you are a smoke I can swallow, fire
rich with something thicker, honey begat
by flames, the wet of burned skin.
your name is honeydew glass. i hunger
& bleed for it, cough up burgundy mercies
for it, but it’s always true the same way:
my nigga is gone. he took himself away
from himself, he flung himself higher
than the oldest light i know, light so old
it’s gone from where it started & is seen
only light years from here. it’s true, a star
withers here, blooms up in a further sky.


“withers here, blooms up in a further sky.”
that’s pretty right? what happened isn’t pretty.
i was ugly with your going. i had its bad teeth
& scabs, heaving up dark, my skin clotting
then becoming like black tumbleweeds.
i was a hollow block, a ghost hood
where liquor tips itself sideways
bleeds out in memory of hands.
over the toilet, nothing left to leave me
but sound. i was not ready to be your witness
i broke like champagne against your vessel.
but to see your mother, to see her hold that
unwanted knowledge of your ark body
she was a fish caught in the blades


your ark body, your fish body, your summer
everything, your royal radius, your bleeding yes
the verb your name makes, so much
to smile about in spite of that final data.
in your honor, i plant an acre of blue
a bouquet of collards held in place by my fro
here I sing a hymn made of chamomile
& kush, sing So you won’t be lonely & my body
is a wall so thin you could miss it
so wide it cuts the world in half
& out the light you stumble
touch yourself gently &



Copyright 2017 by Danez Smith. All rights reserved.

See two more poems by Smith debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: “fat one, with the switch” and “niggas.”

Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompts

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