bus stop

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What was said at the bus stop
Danez Smith

lately has been a long time

says the girl from Pakistan, Lahore to be specific
on the bus stop when the white man
asks her next where she’s from & then
says oh, you from Lahore?
it’s pretty bad over there.

                 lately has been a long time
she says & we look at each other & the look says
yes, i too wish this dude would stop
asking us about where we from
but on the other side of our side eyes
is maybe a hand where hands do no good
a look to say, yes, i know lately has been
a long time for your people too
& i’m sorry the world is so good at making
us feel like we have to fight for space
to fight for our lives

“solidarity” is a word, a lot of people say it
i’m not sure what it means in the flesh
i know i love & have cried for my friends
their browns a different brown than mine
that i have danced their dances when taught
& tasted how their mothers use rice
different than mine. i know sometimes
i can’t see beyond my own pain, past black
& white, how bullets love any flesh.
i know it’s foolish to compare.

what advice do the drowned have for the burned?
what gossip is there between the hung & the buried?

& i want to reach across our great distance
that is sometimes an ocean & sometimes centimeters
& say, look. your people, my people, all that has happened
to us & still make love under rusted moons, still pull

children from the mothers & name them,
still teach them to dance, & your pain is not mine
& is no less & is mine & i pray to my god that your god
blesses you with mercy, & i have tasted your food & understand
how it is a good home, & i don’t know your language
but i understand your songs, & i cried when they came
for your uncles & when you buried your niece
& i wanted the world to burn in the child’s brief memory
& still, still, still, still, still, still, still, still, still
& i have stood by you in the soft shawl of morning
waiting & breathing & waiting

Photo by Adam Kadhim on Unsplash

i’m going back to minnesota…

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I’m going back to Minnesota where sadness makes sense
Danez Smith

O California, don’t you know the sun is only a god
if you learn to starve for him? I’m bored with the ocean
I stood at the lip of it, dressed in down, praying for snow
I know, I’m strange, too much light makes me nervous
at least in this land where the trees always bear green.
I know something that doesn’t die can’t be beautiful.
Have you ever stood on a frozen lake, California?
The sun above you, the snow & stalled sea—a field of mirror
all demanding to be the sun too, everything around you
is light & it’s gorgeous & if you stay too long it will kill you
& it’s so sad, you know? You’re the only warm thing for miles
& the only thing that can’t shine.