twerking as a radical act of healing

when your song plays, steal your body
back out the gut of that brute/nigga/beast/boy.

sweat the bile off, unlearn the word acid,
dance until the only thing you’re sure of is the ache

in your thighs & your name as a metaphor for steam.
bend your knees because you want to,

not for any god or dirty nails in your shoulder.
go down knowing there is still a sky

to rise towards. give your scars to the strobe lights,
let them wash you in lightning, wait for whatever

kind of salvation a basement brings. twerk
& ain’t that the best prayer?

tonight, you left his ghost at home, left a note
for him to pack his ghost-shit & leave

by the time the sun soars in your honor. honey, you’re here
& that’s it’s own psalm. don’t let nobody look at you

& not know they looking at the risen. this how you write
free all over your bones & for the first time

you know free doesn’t mean how his hands mistook you
for somebody’s water, but how you were made to be

like wind, like a hawk, like a doe mid leap,
like a storm, like a child, like a song.

craigslist hook up n. 48

cue two bodies veiled in twilight & ember glow,
a body on top of three-fifths a body, a man

& his property enjoying a quiet evening, a man
who can’t speak & a man that dare not.

cue Mississippi, dusk & moonshine breath,
a white sheet on the bed, a white sheet on the floor

snatched off by brown hungry hands in need
of being choked, the condoms in the dresser

next to the noose, thrill of sorrow lurking in sweat,
kisses that taste like wet red soot. cue two shadows,

daylight on the wall, a mess of sheets, legs, & dew;
a burnt boy with a heartbeat that sounds like running,

his breath stalled by flesh, tongue a sloppy chorus of sir
yes, please & thank you, his mind wild with desire

& rage, his body confused whether to attack or surrender
for this is not the first time a white man called him a nigger

in bed, but the first time he asked him to say it
NOTE: Above video generously shared by the amazing folks at Button Poetry.

Danez Smith is a Cave Canem Fellow, Pushcart Nominee, Survivor & Black Queer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of ‘hands on ya knees’, a chapbook published by Penmanship Books. His full-length collection, ‘[insert] Boy, will be published in 2014 by Yes Yes Books. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Devil’s Lake, The Cortland Review, Anti-, & elsewhere. Danez twerks with the best, has no time for the rest.   ---

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