One Good Lung
There, in a humble polis of copper skinned folk
I watched a pair of old fools forge a bond in chain smoke.
This was in the nadir of a nationwide exiling
that banished all the other men from their houses
and replaced them with a government stipend.
Somehow, by either pride, or miracle, these two
did not become expatriates of their easy chairs
but instead remained relics from an ilk of male negroes
whose skin was once made of real leather,
took the one good lung they had between them
and weathered their extinction
never wasting a single ration of breath
on luxuries, such as saying I love you
but opted to let a borrowed stem of cancer
from their personal bouquets utter such sweet nothings.
Would not admit it, but requited their love with poems
not those of pen and pad because ink costs
and to be their type of black and man
was to have pockets that kept an incurable echo,
but the kind that conveyed vividly, a greyed man
asleep on his couch, a bushel of his buddy’s offspring
blanketing the floor with the television gazing into their eyes
while their pop is away combing the streets
trying to spin his lint into silk or at the very least
take the thinnest of air and somehow extract from it,
a gallon of milk.
I mean poems that know the difference
between rhetoric and imagery
ones that do not tell of the petty dick measuring
that never kept them at each other’s throats,
but those that without warning, poured the malt libation
down your neck and stung your throat
in the exact spot it would holler in theirs
as the bottle of flame mediated their silly spats
and melted the icecaps of their shoulders
ushering in the first warmth of drunkenness
like the first warmth of Spring
reminding me of my own misfortune
how I become a tundra whenever I think
of how my homies hate poetry.
Rasheed Copeland is a native of Washington, DC. He is a father and a husband. He is the author of The Book of Silence: Manhood As a Pseudoscience (Sergeant Press, 2015) and was a recipient of the 2016 DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities Fellowship Award. He placed 2nd in the world at the 2015 Individual World Poetry slam. He is currently studying English at the undergraduate level at Howard University in his junior year.