My dear baby black boy I see the sirens in your eyes
your heart is pounding attempting to escape
through your back or the center of your chest
before gun shots settle it—
oh God. My womb shakes
as you fall
you see the blue sky in your eyes a final time, the gray
of your breath fading at the face of his steel toes
when he inhales the smoke chimneying from his pistol.
There is blood rising in your throat for the first time—
When you taste it you know what it means
you want the spill of your mother’s milk to warm you.
Your sister wants to bring you some but her wrists are cuffed
and she has to watch you—
mostly she thinks she will make it up to you
make you laugh real good when you’re able to move or play again
I tell you dear boy, sweet skin, sweet black boy
they didn’t think any of us would smell your sweet baby breath disappearing—
our legs rumbled the city’s ground when he emptied you
~ Simone Savannah
Poet Simone Savannah is from Columbus, Ohio, and is a PhD candidate in creative writing at The University of Kansas. Her poems have appeared in Big Lucks, Powder Keg, Apogee, GlitterMOB, The Fem, Voicemail Poems, Puerto del Sol, Vending Machine Press, The Pierian, and Blackberry: A Magazine.
Guest Editor Z. Hall is a poet whose work features ekphrasis, and explores race, gender, and culture. She is an essayist and has served as a PEN Prison Writing Mentor. She is currently a writer-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Foundation. As an art writer and scholar, her peer-reviewed publications include works on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘Drunk in Love,’ the field recordings of Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” emergence of the Christian film industry in Lindvall and Quicke’s “Celluloid Sermons,” and the political cartoons of the 2005 Muhammad Cartoon Controversy as rhetorical art, among other works. Hall is the Executive Director and Producer of Salon~360, a monthly, Kansas City regional event that brings together artists whose work focuses on challenging societal issues, for which she was awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant.