Collectable Blacks

This is the g-dropping vernacular
I am stuck in. This is the polyphone
where my head is an agrarian gang
sign pointing like a percussion mallet
to a corn maze in one of the smaller
Indiana suburbs where there aren't
supposed to be black folks. Be cool & try
to grin it off. Be cool & try to lean
it off. Find a kind of black & bet on it.
I'm grinning to this vernacular
like the big drum laugh tracks a patriotic
marching band. Be cool & try to ride
the beat the same way me, Pryor,
& Ra did driving across the 30th Street
Bridge, laughing at these two dudes
with big afros like it's 1981 peeing into
the water & looking at the stars. Right
before Officer Friendly hit his lights.
Face the car, fingers locked behind
your heads. Right after the fireworks
started popping off. Do I need to call
the drug dog? Right after the rattling
windows, mosquitoes as busy in my ears
as 4th of July traffic cops. Right before
the thrill of real planets & pretend planets
spun high into the sky, Ra throwing up
three West Side fingers, each ringed
by pyrotechnic glory & the misnomer
of the three of us grinning at the cop's club
down swinging at almost the exact same
time Pryor says, Cops put a hurting on your
ass, man. & fireworks light up in the same
colors as angry knuckles if you don't
duck on the double. Especially on the West
Side—more carnivorous than almost any
other part of Earth Voyager saw when
it snapped a blue picture on its way out
of this violently Technicolor heliosphere.

by Adrian Matejka

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