The hymn for the time is bone on bone.
One man’s anthem slaughters another.
I know you’ve seen it all before—
a boy born wrong is opened up by the law
for being black, for being young, the song
bled from his back, a hundred songs
awash in the streets. Fear is a door we open
with no regard for the lock
that history puts on.
Know me now as I know you—poet, thief,
a cellist playing down the wreck.
Even as I write you here I evoke
the wrong particular, the artist
not the victim, the stylus not the plate.
I’ve a mind of you in two houses
and one is alight with revival,
one is ablaze with shame:
if I had a hammer, I’d take every stolen melody
every fiddle tune plucked by your hand
and level it like a sheet of copper
back to the hour from which it came.
if I had a hammer, I’d life your bones and reanimate.
Help us sing again—we shall overcome.