Summer 2013 • Vol. XXXV No. 3 Poetry |

The Sky, Now Black with Birds

Riot helmets outnumbered the protesters who, after Troy Davis was executed, stuck around to throw useless punches into the courthouse grass, while a woman near the forest of batons lay sprawled facedown in the lawn gripping a Bible, a green sea beginning to memorize the shape of her grief. If I say Death, cure death, and have such power over the scythe, how many cranes will it take to lift her out of this drowning?            If I tell you white supremacist Lawrence Brewer was executed five hours earlier for the murder of James Byrd— if I ask you to look for birds foraging between his intricate tattoos, I don't mean to distract you from the cross that still burned on his arm that day. I don't expect you to stare into a graffiti of iron-crosses and spider webs scrawled across flesh and find a thrush vibrating with birdsong, but I want you to know why I listen for more than the cawing of crows:            I wanted Brewer dead. So dead, my

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Jamaal May is a poet and editor from Detroit, Michigan where he has taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer and touring performer. His first full-length collection, Hum (Alice James Books, 2013), received the Beatrice Hawley Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination. Other honors include the 2013 Indiana Review Poetry Prize and a 2011-2013 Stadler Fellowship. Jamaal’s poems appear in such publications as New Republic, the Believer, Poetry, Ploughshares, and Best American Poetry.

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The Hum of Zug Island

By Jamaal May

Riot helmets outnumbered the protesters who, after Troy Davis was executed, stuck around to throw useless punches into the courthouse grass, while a woman near the forest of batons lay […]

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