Two Poems by Nate Marshall

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


185 pounds

1. this is my ideal weight.

2. i was this weight after weeks on line.

3. today i ate a kale salad instead of a burger.

4. at last check: 215

5. last week i played basketball & hip checked a white boy out of the sky.

6. i slide in & out of veganism.

7. when i’m not vegan i eat everything fried & with abandon.

8. i’m most often not vegan.

9. sometimes i don’t eat and i drink.

10. enough water will clear you lucid.

11. when i was on line all i drank was water.

12. sometimes i don’t eat.

13. Michael was monstrous. Eric big enough for death.

14. sometimes i don’t eat.

15. basketball was my best place to make white men bleed safely.

16. i love basketball.

17. sometimes i don’t eat.

18. when i played basketball i drank 2 gallons of water a day.

19. tomorrow i’m a go running. i won’t stop until i get little.

20. 6 pack.

21. pack.

22.

 

Black Body Language

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

my good sense leaves
me. my mind runs
away and i fantasize
about hugging a stranger
in Wal-Mart.


every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i wait
in the longer line at the grocery
so i can hold eye contact with a Negro
who isn't a colleague or a student. i look
away before i say anything stupid.

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i hum Al Green audibly. i don’t
know if there’s Morse code
for colored folks
but i figure this
is a good bet.

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i tip extra at Buffalo Wild Wings.
i buy a craft beer
instead of taking
my wings with water.

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i try
not to
make any
false moves.

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i hope
there’s a white person i know
around to say we look
alike and ask if
we’re cousins.

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i wonder what kind
of handshake they would give:
something standard, a dap, a half
hug, or something that explodes
our knuckles to dust.

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i attempt a head nod
but they only catch
the second half
where i look
down.

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i think
i don’t.

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i feel like
a funhouse mirror.

every time i see a black person in Crawfordsville

i don’t
say
a thing.


Photo of Nathaniel Marshall

Photo of Nathaniel Marshall

Nate Marshall is from the South Side of Chicago. He is the editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. His first book, Wild Hundreds, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. He received his MFA in Poetry at The University of Michigan where he also served as a Zell Postgraduate Fellow. He received his BA at Vanderbilt University. A Cave Canem Fellow, his work has appeared in POETRY Magazine, Indiana Review, The New Republic, [PANK] Online and in many other publications.

He was the star of the award winning full-length documentary Louder Than A Bomb and has been featured on the HBO Original Series Brave New Voices. He is also a Poetry Editor for Kinfolks Quarterly. Nate won the 2014 Hurston/Wright Founding Members Award and the 2013 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award. He was a finalist for the 2014 Ruth Lilly/Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. Nate was named a semi-finalist for the 2013 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Contest. He was also a 2013 finalist for the Indiana Review Poetry Prize.