Audio: Read by the author.

You can be a bother who dyes
his hair Dennis Rodman blue
in the face of the man kneeling in blue
in the face the music of his wrist-
watch your mouth is little more
than a door being knocked
out of the ring of fire around
the afternoon came evening’s bell
of the ball and chain around the neck
of the unarmed brother ground down
to gunpowder dirt can be inhaled
like a puff the magic bullet point
of transformation both kills and fires
the life of the party like it’s 1999 bottles
of beer on the wall street people
who sleep in the streets do not sleep
without counting yourself lucky
rabbit’s foot of the mountain
lion do not sleep without
making your bed of the river
boat gambling there will be
no stormy weather on the water
bored to death any means of killing
time is on your side of the bed
of the truck transporting Emmett
till the break of day Emmett till
the river runs dry your face
the music of the spheres
Emmett till the end of time

Published in the print edition of the June 22, 2020 of the @NewYorker