Danez Smith

My Body (Thug Mansion Remix)

Rasheed got a secret, I spin it on my tongue
can’t decide if it’s fruit or a snake
I swallow it anyway & all the light in Oakland
I got room for it all, everywhere in me is a man
smoking, playing bones, or lying to his wife.
What am I today? A trap
a sanctuary of blunts & barely any teeth
a place to spend your quiet nights
a place away from the world
all the black boys die & my stomach is full
all the black boys think about dying
& run to my mouth to take their mind off it
I, temple of ghost & soon-to-be ghost, do swear
my right hand raised, my left on a pile of boys
to make my body comfortable, safe
& wet where appropriate. I was born to give it away.
I, the final resting place of want
promise a pint of spit while you rest your weary hips
against my jaw. I, gate-keeper of a godless gate
swear to you simple luxuries: sugar water
a blunt in the morning, a lover who starts at the knees
I am all the wonder a boy could need. If I jump in the air
I’m a sky high, iced out paradise. If I lay down
I am LA on fire, a heat who lives to lick
the beaten man’s split skin

Danez Smith is a 2014 Ruth Lilly/Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow. He has also received fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, and VONA. His writing has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Danez is the author of [insert] Boy (2014, YesYes Books). He lives in St. Paul, MN.