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The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2021

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JUL-AUG 2021 Issue
Poetry

five


I am starting another poem in English



the language that justified slavery,
posited the superiority of whiteness,
drafted contracts for black bodies,
got flowery about raping black women.
 

I am starting another poem in English
the language ending black lives now
making clever arguments in court
to get white policemen off again.
 

                Again is a refrain of injustice.
                Again is a refrain of a poem in English.
 

I am starting another poem in English
because I have no mother tongue
than this settler, slaver, supremacist,
this – my – white-privileged one.
 

I am starting another poem in English
the only language of protest I have.
I join with: No justice no peace no racist police
We chant it again and again and again.
 

                Again is a refrain of refusal.
                Again is a refrain of a poem in English.









Six is All




1 is peace
2 is war
3 is love
4 is stars
5 is hand
6 is spiral




1 is me
2 is you
3 is we
4 is they
5 is you (plural)
6 is all




1 is death
2 is death
3 is death
4 is death
5 is death
6 is death












Before Sewing One Must Cut



Curious as a cat about
this goldfinch on a sycamore branch
dazzle of neon yellow
against matte green leaves
I can almost fall for the way
in flight it knits
the present moment
a unity of ah
until
potential climate futures
seep through the stitching
boiling black ooze of ruins
human cries like
singing birds’ twisted necks
entangled in the knot of this world
where injustice is distributed
unequally by gun muzzles
it’s a nightmare out there
the blind mycelium
remind me
through a nerve
polyphony at my toes
no one knows
no one knows
no one knows the future
so you have to choose
no one knows
no one knows
you have to choose









Written on a Bookmark



I don’t remember the first book
I ever read nor will I
know which book will be my last
but I hope it’s not this book.









Downtown



around here
hard to walk
without
walking over


the last place
someone or
other
breathed


a last breath,
hard to walk
without death
around here


Contributor

E.J. McAdams

E.J. McAdams is a NYC-based poet and artist. He is the author of five chapbooks, the most recent of which is Middle Voice from Dusie Kollectiv: McAdams--MiddleVoice.pdf.

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The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2021

All Issues