When Brother’s First Son asked me
where it happened, where his father could not out run
death, I tell him the truth, but feel heavy with the
weight of witness, a wild gun shot ricochets in my
throat. He wants to know if it happened in the back
yard where his father as a boy once raced behind orange,
and sweet lemon trees, scrambling over warped
fences to escape bb gun games. Shoulders shot by other boys.
Brother was a big target. Tiny bullets pierced summer
skin but they smiled at the gun play with those they called brother.
These easy pains heal clean. They are not the ones that mark
some boys. Boys that always carry those scars, even after
wounds are no longer circled red. Mother tells First Son not to
wear his hoodie over his head. Don’t walk to the corner store alone.
Be back before the street lights turn on, she says, just like she told
Brother as a boy. Are these the warnings Brother would have given his son,
knowing that sometimes it is not enough because some boys,
some brown boys are never just boys to some.
This selection comes from the book, Brother Bullet, available from University of Arizona Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Clark .
Casandra López is a California Indian (Cahuilla/Tongva/Luiseño) and Chicana writer who has received support from CantoMundo, Bread Loaf, and Tin House. She’s the author of the poetry collection, Brother Bullet and has been selected for residencies with the School of Advanced Research, Storyknife, Hedgebrook and Headlands Center for the Arts. Her memoir-in-progress, A Few Notes on Grief was granted a 2019 James W. Ray Venture Project Award. She’s a founding editor of As/ Us and teaches at Northwest Indian College.
Sarah Clark is a disabled non-binary Nanticoke editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at Anomaly (www.anmly.org
), Co-Editor of the Bettering American Poetry series (www.betteringamericanpoetry.com
) and The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2021), a reader at The Atlas Review and Doubleback Books, and an Editorial Board member at Sundress Press. She curated Anomaly‘s GLITTERBRAIN folio (http://anmly.org/ap25-glitterbrain/
) and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms (http://anmly.org/ap-27-indigenous-futures/
), edited Drunken Boat’s folios on Sound Art, “Desire & Interaction,” and a collection of global indigenous art and literature, “First Peoples, Plural.” They were co-editor of Apogee Journal‘s #NoDAPL #Still Here folio, and co-edited Apogee Journal‘s series “WE OUTLAST EMPIRE,” of work against imperialism, and “Place[meant]“, on place and meaning, and is a former Executive Board member at VIDA. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations. www.twitter.com/petitobjetb