Two Poems by Bernard Ferguson

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Common and John Legend’s Glory echoes in the background during the march on downtown minneapolis after Jamar Clark was shot and a young boy stands on the top of a car and raises his fist while i cry

from behind the glow of my laptop in a dark apartment in st paul and yeah i got my cape pressed and yeah i got my kicks ready but that don’t mean i got a say in this that don’t mean this country aint looking for an excuse to drag me back into the ocean so here i be with a hum of light across my face with the doors locked but still in danger and i’m getting choked up cause i heard this song before but it ain’t ever sound like this and now i think i can hear the fresh coat of grief that laid itself over Common’s skin on the cover of Nobody’s Smiling and made him look at the camera like he only had one more second before he lost his cool and descended down the mountain side to lay hands on all the precious gold that they took from us and now on my screen the boy’s fist is stretched up into the clouds and John Legend has just begun the journey across the wide holy field that is the final chorus and out from behind the tower of city hall comes big mama who can’t make it to this type of resistance cause the walk aint good for them bones and beside her is the homie from round the block who just got out from upstate cause they caught him using that weed to whisper something to his daddy who passed five years ago and beside him is another nigga who i’ve never seen before but he got handcuffs around his wrist and their broken chains are swinging by his side and all the niggas who couldn’t make it out here to stand on two feet are lined by all the ones who could  and in the distance is the screech of a cop car and its red and blue flames across the evening turn the sky into a menace into a flag that’s trying to wrap itself around our necks  but we don’t care all the homies we laid to rest came out to this fight too and it might be this song or it might be getting too dark out but you can’t tell me that these niggas don’t look like me


one day the tide will recede and we’ll all be dead

years ago, we sat on this sand with a bucket full of a fried dead thing and a few folks
whose blood was unfamiliar but we’d die for anyway and the sand wished itself legs and
spun in the air with our laughter and our voices carried far along the surface of the water
to another other end where a man lay floating on his back with nothing left to his name
except the salt along his fingers cause all that new water came in and made an ocean
floor out of his whole city cause all that new water was sure to give his family the first
taste then made a home out of their bellies and this man heard the laughter of children
folded into the ocean’s ripples and cracked a smile for he knew wherever there is joy
and the water’s shimmer there too are people for the atlantic to close its lips over and i
imagine someday one of you will be standing on the last tall thing we have left
overlooking the wide river’s flickering metal and the nothing on the horizon that spilled
over the streets we grew up on and you’ll hope that the land soon drains its bath hope
the sun comes quickly to drink away the drowning so you can find me and all of our
people by the shore one last time, so heavy and full of salt.

Photo of Bernard Ferguson

Photo of Bernard Ferguson

Bernard Ferguson is a Bahamian immigrant trying to plant his feet in Minnesota. He is eager to convince you that fall is an awful season. He has work featured/upcoming in Best New Poets 2017, Epiphany Magazine, Mizna, and The Santa Ana River Review, among others. These days, he is most interested in talking about your favorite reggae songs.