American Wedding, poem by Amiri Nash.
Am I ready to surrender to the land?
To have my lungs singed by the sound of a siren?
This country loves me like a dead body
Yet we are married to it without choice
A delicate white lace veil disguised as a noose over my head
Flower girls chasing after me still –
Leaving behind a trail of red and blue bullets
I, free man, take you
With every pump of my heart pulling against the hot tarmac
My arms and legs and arms and legs moving beyond speed
To be lawfully wedded spouse
Clap and smile as I hit the ground now,
Celebrate the burial yet to be
To have and to hold
Throw away my body,
Make it nice and bloody and
Leave my ears open to hear the chants
My eyelids unclosed to see my death digitalized
From this day forward
Tell me it was an accident; that you were just trying to plant flowers –
that you still love me with my black skin spilling on the ground; plead innocent and
Swear, with your right hand on the bible
Sit my family on one side of the altar;
and your family on the other
Hear metal badges clink as they turn to watch me wheeled down the aisle
Revolvers shiny and glowing and polished; protected
But “just to keep my body safe,” lifeless and inoperative as stone
Listen to the birds howling tender and taint –
Their cries camouflaged as the sound of a mother wailing;
My brand new tuxedo glowing from the undertaker
And celebrate with family the last stride;
Grasping the air by teeth before worms and
Maggots chew through ethereal unsettlement
In sickness and in health
Smiling through veins before they
Paint my vessels and cells with gang, violent,
thug, hoodlum, toughie, scoundrel, urban, gangsta, and deserving of it.
Until death do us apart
And now we become married – lowering my body
into the ground as my spouse’s family applauds
A time capsule for the memory of the pain,
Rings placed on me and covered by the roses; green stems over my stoic fists,
What God has joined, men must not divide.
This is how they want to love me.
I am loved by America when I am dead in its arms,
Married to the funeral it scripted to me,
Decorated with death and dishonor and wallow
This is not how I ought to be loved.