By Khalil Carpenter

I was writing my heart out and suddenly I said to myself

That pain in you chest should remind you,
That knot of nervousness, tucked
Your bluish pulsing plum.

Remember, your chest is thin as thin as thin
Full of current and love and everything untamed;
A screeching rat in a toothpick cage.

Look boy, you ain't Hemingway and Hemingway
Couldn't even handle Hemingway.
And I'd be damned if I don't remind you
That the page has been waiting,
You better write boy
You better hurry--because black boys can only get so far
Before they're considered everything but black

A target
A sellout
A wannabe

And I dare you to act like you’re anything but your skin
Less you're willing to let your cage desiccate and crumble

See, I'm trying to tell you that you are death postponed
Dancing on a brook of blood and cotton

And you are there, heaved over the paper
Stressing over every phrase
Like you should
Because if you have the balls to wear
Skinny jeans and put your lips on a white girl
Then you should be able to earn a win for your People.

Khalil Carpenter
KHALIL CARPENTER is a junior at Toledo School for the Arts, where he majors in creative writing. He strives to become a magical realist author. His poems examine weirdness and anxiety is by combining the magical and the real in pursuit of greater truth.