Volume 25, Number 3


You ask if I’m throwing shade at you.
I call you a bubble on a scantron test.

In asking about this city, Detroit
the word you’re leading to
is ghost, but we be more silhouette
than that.

Still alive, an outline of what used to be
but breathing the same air as you.

When you say comeback,
I say deforestation.

You mean to say how my hometown’s
being rebuilt beautifully.

I mean to say you have to destroy what was already here
in order to rebuild.

You ask how anyone could
grow up here.
I say age.

Living things tend to do that.

You say that isn’t what you meant.
I say, I forgot to mention my parents,
did make me eat my vegetables.

You ask if I’ve ever been shot.
I say yeah, by my doctor, multiple times.

You correct yourself; ask if I’ve ever been shot at.
I say yeah, happens all the time,
I do play video games after all.

You see casino.
I see leech.
You see poverty.
I see casinos,
schools shut down,
taxes raised,
whole city blocks

You bring up music
like we haven’t made anything
since Motown left.

You ask if we’re ever
happy here.
I ask have you ever paid
attention to the people
who are still alive,
who’ve been here the whole time.

You ask if I’m throwing shade at you.
I call you a coloring book full of trees during high noon.

You ask if I’m trying to make you mad.
I answer, no. I’m trying to help you understand what it feels like
when all the conversations are about the future,
but you’re treated like a population of invisible men.

No one mentions now, it’s all golden age and time to come,
good old days and what this place could be.

I ask if you understand how it feels to be a chalk outline
of something still alive.

—Deonte Osayande