Amidst the Riots for Blue to Mean No Longer Forbidden the Very Air

heidi andrea restrepo rhodes

(For Milo R.; for Pei)

This arrogant autonomy, which is guaranteed the police, not only in New York, by the most powerful forces in American life — otherwise, they would not dare to claim it would indeed be unable to claim it— creates a situation which is as close to anarchy as it already, visibly, is close to martial law.

          — James Baldwin, “A Report from Occupied Territory”

Who are the broken-hearted whose forget-me-not names

simmer & flail, summer & sunder, catch rain

in the palm of your hand?

Who are the hungers, morning blue & ultramarine?

This is a time, perhaps now more

than ever, I want to know

your exiles, your sapphire

memories. We are an emergency

meeting point for our histories

collisions midnight disasters, we are

always I hear you in my ear

I hear the yonder sound —

your questions scaling cliffs. Even

in a fear of heights, your questions

peak & sky, challenge

the drop, bodied. How far

they see from up there. A lupine

& ipomoea dream. I never forget

the beauty of your people

& my people, a swirling dust setting

us ablaze like the clam’s good mouth. Though

they tremble, teal, & sweat. Say

                                        wide & many,

                                                how far & who


how we eject the empty-hearted offices:

thunder and fire of billy club & leaded bean,

the uniformed arrogance toward autopsy,

the “defense strategy” of subjugations:

spectacular defeat of fathers,

spectred deferral of futures.

             A shrewdness and sounder of griefs.

Ask instead the emperor butterfly to lead us

an azure realm of remembering, aspiration.

Watch wings brew storms for miles.

Listen. That’s the sound of us up there

on the edge. Birds now, blue    starlings, perhaps.

Peering down on imperial architectures,

our laughter shattering brick


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