Baldwin sang The Fire Next Time
in 1963 & we are living in the wake
of his impossible love.
I too dream
of such heat. Pray
with the diligence of a saint,
scarlet tongues of light sharp
enough to cut bone
& soul just the same.
My parents praise a vengeful god.
Son of all three, what else did I inherit
but this commitment to the scales?
The killer woke up today.
Probably ate scrambled eggs
for breakfast, brushed his teeth
three times or fewer, walked
in soft slippers through the living
room today, checked the mail
while a child decomposed
underground, held still
beneath the bloodless weight
of the law. I yearn
if not equilibrium; a means
to honor how elders
taught me to pray:
Lord, if you be
at all, be
hails from Yonkers, NY. He is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at Princeton University, and has received fellowships from Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, The Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University, and the Ford Foundation. Winner of the 2014 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, his poems have been published or are forthcoming in Anti-
, Women & performance: a journal of feminist theory
and elsewhere. Joshua has recited his original work at events such as the Sundance Film Festival, the NAACP Image Awards, and President Obama’s Evening of Poetry and Music at The White House. He is also the founding editor of Kinfolks: a journal of black expression
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