Poem of the Week | August 06, 2018

This week, we are excited to present a new poem by Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley. An Affrilachian author, Kingsley is currently the Tickner Writing Fellow and recipient of a Provincetown FAWC fellowship as well as scholarships from Kundiman, Tin House, Sewanee, & VONA. He belongs to the Onondaga Nation of Indigenous Americans in New York. Peep his work from last year in Best New Poets, Blackbird, Boston Review, the Cincinnati Review, the Iowa Review, Narrative, PEN America, the Poetry Review, Tin House, & West Branch, among others. His first book is out this fall: Not Your Mama’s Melting Pot, selected by Bob Hicok.

Out My Apartment Window, West Baltimore: August, 2 A.M.

I spread the blinds
with sleepy fingers:
Three boys
and a lookout fourth
none old enough
to drive the car
they’re prowling
My Marlboro
-colored sedan,
a Benz twenty-something
years old & seated
atop bald wheels
soggy under the weight
of rain & faded
parking lot
I think more
& more
she’s the one
thing my father left me
I’ve ever really used.
It’s a hell:
Of a time
they’re having.
Attempt after:
to pry the ornament
from hood, paint-peeled
& chipped enough
to reveal the gray
of stone beneath:
Five minutes
of sneakers mounted
on her grill & a flurry
of whimpering tugs
it’s a real sword in the stone
I lay back down
in bed with hope
in an anvil of heart
that one boy will
free the silver:
And to him
it will be
And he will
brandish the star
the ornament the sword
long as a boy can:
there is no
outstretched arm. No
Lady hidden in crystal-misted Lake.
Every old white wizard
would see you burned
alive. Here no Merlin
will shoulder the spell
of all your weight:
With your own arm
you cut.
With your own arm
you take:
we get after
our own.
From the gray
of stones we pry
we pull each jewel
of light. Here
we forge
our own:
Bodies laid
upon the anvil
of this street.

Author’s Note:

I live in West Baltimore, a couple blocks down from where the Freddie Gray riots began in 2015. My car’s a real piece-of-shit clunker (but it gets me to work and back just fine, most days). “Out My Apartment Window” was written after a couple boys from my street tried to rip off the hood ornament. Bless them. I wish I had more to give than a tchotchke.