Genetics

for Trayvon Martin

 

Whisking sweet mustard into a dressing
while the spring wind howls, a little
hungover, I can’t help
but recall the long ago night
in the apartment I shared with my ex
just up the street from the black watered bay—

beer in one hand, cigarette in the next—

what was it
my grandfather always said?

Those people are crippled!
A beer in one hand, cigarette in the next!—

Enterprising man, my grandfather.
Of course, those people were his
people, and therefore mine.

That night, that couch,
inhale, and sip, inhale, and sip, that night
was every night, except, this time, legs
tucked up beneath my ever growing ass,
a thought like a shot
between the eyes: This will kill you.
Someday. So glib. So true. 2 out of 4
smokers like a bullseye for a Texan
on a hunt. 3 out of 4 of my grandparents
dead— inhale, and sip— so,
I’ll be blunt. Genetics are a bitch.

They’ll get you in the end, I think,
and whisk. Unless, my brain objects,
your fate’s a wild card, the random
drop-off from the random cliff, the skiff
caught up and plundered in the sudden
squall, the auto crash, the methane
leak, the gun— oh, wrong again. How

much more likely you will meet
your wild end if once your grandparents’
grandparents’ grandparents & c & c
somehow managed to survive the acrid
trip from one continent’s dark tip
to another’s. Enterprising folks.

Genetics are no joke: they’re a bullseye
with your hoodie and your Skittles
stamped upon its middle, no riddle
to the why of your calculated
end, the bullet, your black skin.

 

 

 

 

 

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About evanduyne

I'm assistant professor of writing at Stockton University, where I'm also affiliated faculty in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. I work on Sylvia Plath, contingent faculty, and creative writing around trauma and domestic violence.
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One Response to Genetics

  1. Will Roby says:

    The final five lines are perfect. The poem lacks a beginning, I’m afraid. BUT, it’s a draft yeah? I can’t wait to read what happens when the fire in the final strophe spreads to the others, and whatnot. Thanks for sharing!

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