The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Honeyfish by Lauren K. Alleyne

Post-Verdict Renga

For Trayvon

Provincetown, MA

Heat. Bodies gleaming with sweat and sun. Day pressing itself against everything:
unforgiving. I am walking down this street thinking of another walk in another city,
of a boy who never makes it home. I, too, am armed with thirst and a craving for
sweetness; I, too, wear his brown skin and do not belong here, to this city of leisure
and narrow streets. Fear passes through me, a phantom, and is gone. Overhead, flags
flutter in the thick, salty air. Not guilty, they say. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty.
Not guilty. Not guilty.

Beginning is red—
a door, a car, the bowed lips,
a nameless flower.
I have so few names for things
here, I fall into silence.
Two men, black as God,
their shirts golden as morning.
No words between us.
So much passes in the glance
that the throat cannot muster.
Three headless torsos
in a store window. A light
trick makes men of them.
In this city of flesh, you
can almost forget the ghosts

Fat daylilies crown
long green stalks, their orange heads
the color of grief.
No candlelight vigils here:
only the living, living.
He walks, oak brown, bald,
belly like a commandment—
I am here: make way
Nothing I say will save you,
but how can I say nothing?
Thick black curls cut close,
buttoned black shirt. Caramel face
diamonded with sweat.
a dark, ageless face
wise and innocent as earth—
how have you survived?

I can’t stop counting
the bodies that look like yours:
five this whole morning.
I can’t say if this matters,
just that I saw, I did see

This selection comes from the book, Honeyfish, available from New Issues Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Natalie Giarratano.

LAUREN K. ALLEYNE is the author of two collections of poetry, Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press 2014), and Honeyfish (New Issues & Peepal Tree, 2019). Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, The Atlantic, Ms. Muse, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Interviewing the Caribbean, and the Crab Orchard Review. Recent honors for her work include a 2017 Philip Freund Alumni Prize for Excellence in Publishing (Cornell University), the 2016 Split This Rock Poetry Prize, and a Picador Guest Professorship in Literature (University of Leipzig, Germany, 2015). She is currently the assistant director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and an associate professor of English at James Madison University. Twitter Handle: @poetLKA

Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway PoetryTupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She edits and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and daughter and is the city’s poet laureate. 


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