Size / / /

                 zero to a hunted nigga real quick

they've made a floating metal bull
with horns that fly in the wind
its eyes find bulls-eyes
and grows red with rage around brown
and glows ready with greed around red.
it's a resourceful sculptor:
it put a window into the roof of
one shack of galvanised steel;
it whittled away the rest of
a rugged concrete church along the way
so Jesus leaned on the cornerstone
facing the heavens, forsaken;
one time, it painted
on the back of a teenage girl
just because it wanted
a change of canvas.
its is a special kind of fuming.
more like a blackbird, maybe?
protective of a nesting tree that was
never under threat.

                 what started with a single flaming arrow
                 would grow into a figure-eight of incubated ammo

they cast their fears in iron.
braying from any lectern that would
hold their hatred in its hands without breaking.
they had new house slaves
they had new hounds for hunting
with hummingbird wings and darts for beaks
sneaking into the slums for suspects.
'we need it', they said.
'we can never know for sure
what the shadows may be
up to next.'
everything was justified
editors found/replaced the word 'thug' from the news
and other t-words besides
lots of them
thumping on parliament tables with glee.
hunting season and the chambers of every courthouse loaded
while hummingbirds sip the nectar of dumb youth
from stomped daisies on the curb
of muddy city streets
an android can win an arms race
but a black boy can't.
he loses as soon as
he hears a shot (or)
when he runs (or)
at all.

                 down from a huntable surplus to

there will come a time soon
when our parents will stop naming us
because they never want to scream those names.
there will come a time sooner
when our parents will stop naming us
because we will never be in the house long enough
to hear them,
dead on the tongue, buried in spit
long before the buzzard comes.
there will come a time sooner still
when there will be far too many tombstones
than there were names at all,
and far too little space besides,
we will be buried in lists instead,
or our parents will cast us as the bricks of their first homes  
and our grandparents will blow our ash into glassware
so they can kiss us at the dining table
like we never went anywhere.
there will be calm.
they'll finally scrap all the reticles,
soon it will be open season on
the hunting hounds,
all the birds will be called and then shot,
there will be no more need for animals.

Brandon O'Brien is a performing poet and writer from Trinidad and Tobago. His work has been shortlisted for the 2014 and 2015 Small Axe Literary Competitions, and published in Reckoning, Uncanny Magazine, and New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, among other outlets.
%d bloggers like this: