Summer 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 1 PoetryJune 16, 2023 |

proper burial for the yellow-bellied sapsucker

For the bird, dead on the sidewalk, that i did not stop to mourn nor bury the weekend & its large wing on the horizon & me & the homies hover next to the river’s edge & laugh at the spectacular joke & i bury my feet into the foaming water & in the distance a hawk dives into a cottonwood like a scythe & some years ago a forest loud with mockingbirds was gutted & its soil hidden beneath a runway so a new metal falcon, full of lives, could depart & take black folk toward the white north & in Missouri a train carried black people away from the gulf as a conclave of cardinals circled overhead & continued their journey in the opposite direction & the ancestors once watched the birds with rubied foreheads waft through the cotton trees & thought it to be blood in the breeze & today, i smile along the mouth of the Mississippi & there are niggas in another decade

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b is a queer Bahamian poet, essayist, educator, and dreamer currently living on the ancestral homeland of the Lenape people. By the way of friends, collaborators, institutions, and luck, their poems and essays have been published and featured in places like the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They’re currently working on a nonfiction book, The Climate Sirens (Graywolf, 2025), about Hurricane Dorian, the effects of climate change on Small Island Developing States, and how centuries of far-flung injustices—like colonization, slavery, and numerous inequalities at local and global scales—have come to precipitate the climate crisis.

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