For National Poetry Month: “Post-Verdict Renga for Trayvon”

April 29, 2014   •   By Lauren K. Alleyne

Post-Verdict Renga for Trayvon 


Provincetown, MA

Heat. Bodies gleaming with sweat and sun. Day pressing itself against everything: unforgiving. I am walking down this street thinking of another walk in another city, of a boy who never makes it home. I, too, am armed with thirst and a craving for sweetness; I, too, wear his brown skin and do not belong here, to this city of leisure and narrow streets. Fear passes through me, a phantom, and is gone. Overhead, flags flutter in the thick, salty air. Not guilty, they say. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty.


     Beginning is red—
a door, a car, the bowed lips,
     a nameless flower.


I have so few names for things
     here, I fall into silence 

     Two men, black as God,
their shirts golden as morning.
     No words between us.


    So much passes in the glance
that the throat cannot muster. 

   Three headless torsos
 in a store window. A light
trick makes men of them. 


   In this city of flesh, you
can almost forget the ghosts. 

     Fat daylilies crown
long green stalks, their orange heads
     the color of grief.


 No candlelight vigils here
   only the living, living. 

  He walks, oak brown, bald,
belly like a commandment —
      I am here: make way


Nothing I say will save you,
 but how can I say nothing? 

    Thick black curls cut close,
Buttoned black shirt. Caramel face
     diamonded with sweat. 


   a dark, ageless face
wise and innocent as earth —
   how have you survived? 

   I can’t stop counting
the bodies that look like yours:
   five this whole morning. 


I can’t say if this matters,
   just that I saw, I did see. 


Lauren K. Alleyne is currently the Poet-in-Residence and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Dubuque in Iowa.