Having a Beautiful Black Boy in America by Eduardo Gabrieloff

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


From the tense of his thigh
to the slap of his palm,
I know his body.
I’ve watched every action,
sense where he’ll stumble,
watch him succeed when I’m sure
I’ll be scooping him from the gravel,
trying to keep his tears from
the open bright wounds.

I do my best, but still see it.
His face on asphalt,
a growing pool beneath him.
His hands to his sides, as if
bracing for the street.

His curly hair, his long legs,
his distant sleepy look.
His stomping fury,
his high-pitched squeal for attention.
His insistence about eating
only what he chooses.
It’s gone with the good,
heading toward the Atlantic,
down the Mississippi.

No matter what I teach him,
he’ll still be a black boy,
a threat to the badge.
My dad will stand over my shoulder,
no tears, no hand to comfort.
“I told you it would be hard.”


Photo of Eduardo Gabrieloff

Photo of Eduardo Gabrieloff

Eduardo Gabrieloff lives in Denver, Colorado with his partner and child. He was born in Cali, Colombia and moved to Colorado when he was four years old. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Luna Luna, The Journal of Ordinary Thought, Leaf Litter, Bluestem, [PANK] and Pilgrimage. He is a CantoMundo Fellow, a Callaloo Fellow, and a Signal Fire Fellow.