melanogenesis on a neuron

why is it that now, and only now, i sense the pigment

of every cell in my body, as if the rubber-coated metal

ricocheting against my legs is exploding into tar, as if i have

broken the double-paned glass of a white reflection

only to see dense bones and a tender neck, carotid rotten

with hypertensive artery disease, or coronary artery disease,

or whatever underlying health condition has been mutated into my genes;


why is it that now, and only now, it’s the first time

i am beginning to expectorate blood, or feel a sharpness

surging through my left shoulder blade, or one hundred

and eighty pounds of pressure on my auricular nerve—

      the coroner will say that there were no signs of 

      traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation.—

i choke as tear gas and smoke fornicate in my lungs, 

cover my mouth as an Angry Orchard bottle filled with petrol

finds home through the tributaries of my windshield, catch my breath

as immolation roots itself in an Autozone, or the nave of St. John’s 

Church, or the ashwood tables of Mama Safia’s Kitchen, 

or the sidewalks running down Greenwood Avenue;


why is it that now, and only now, i question the silence

in tragedy? in America, it is customary to wear black

to a funeral. so we show up: limp bodies dragged against concrete

by the elbows, arms raised while our eyes are rendered lachrymatory.