Transition Poem 19 @ Nov. 27, 2016

Darius Stewart
Dear Mr. President

What will happen when there’s another story
of a boy whose fate’s been sealed
for a limp wrist
a lisp
a herringbone pattern
in his tie-dye t-shirt
how will we reconcile
the senselessness we can’t understand
& neither will this boy who hadn’t made his bed
one morning on a whim & decided hmmm, what if
his pointer finger pressed to his lip
contemplating the pros & cons
but later used it to silence his blustering
to shield a purple gash so deep in the flesh
it takes weeks of healing
what do we do when there are clues everywhere
& somehow coming in from the cold
became evidence the muddied snow-slush traipsed
over the clean carpet
the dog sniffing out the scent of another dog’s shit
lingering on the boy’s boot soles & why
how we will ask ourselves
when the roads are clear the sidewalks
clear all the way to the house a clear path
so where did all the mess come from Mr. President
will you help us
get past how dreary it’s all become
to be a school-age boy in love with boys
who sacrifice those’s & them’s to the gods
of eternal damnation & we know why
but not him
this naïve lovely fool so fond of make-believe
to be a pauper or a superstar he sings to himself
as if he has a choice
as if those hallways divided
with sneers & jeers will give him a choice
as if they aren’t tripping him up every chance they get
flicking their narrow fingers against his skull
barely covered with hair cause they cut it off
nicked him good in the process
that & more graffito on his locker
bitch faggot cocklicker
& there he’ll be on his knees
elbow-deep in suds scrubbing away
all those why’s & what-did-I-do’s
wringing out rags & sponges
his grief into filthy pails you’d think it’s dissolved shit
mucking up those buckets & somehow
we can’t seem to do enough for this sweet boy
who sashays too much & can’t sway enough souls
to his corner walking home bunched up
in that winter coat for miles shivering
trying to shake the gay away they scream at him
passing by on the school bus
hanging out windows with tongues flagging
so uncontrollably content
in their miscreant joy
they might not ever recover from it
might not ever care to see that boy again
his head bent to the wind
cinching his coat tighter
adjusting the soreness from his shoulders
each time he switches his bag from one side to the other
struggling to make it home in the cold cold
because Mr. President
all he wants is to make it


1-1Darius Stewart is the author of The Terribly Beautiful (2006) and Sotto Voce (2008), each of which was an Editor’s Choice Selection in the Main Street Rag Poetry Chapbook Series, as well as The Ghost the Night Becomes (2014), winner of the 2013 Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Prize. Other poems and prose appear widely in literary journals and anthologies. He is a former James A. Michener Fellow in poetry, receiving the M.F.A. degree from The University of Texas at Austin. Presently, he resides in Knoxville, Tenn.,  with his dog, Phillip J. “Fry.”