Enjoy Being Human

Shayla Lawson

—from I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean

RIP Trayvon. That nigga look
just like me.
And yes, I recognize
the vulgarity in this elegy.

Just as the President
who could only say “If I had a son
he’d look like Trayvon—

Instead of "If I had a son
he’d look just like me.
So often, the body is used

as a way to mediate chaos.
Just like the Statue of Liberty
looked "just like Trayon"

but America couldn’t not swim
under the body of a black girl
and still feel free. And yes

this is a vulgar elegy. I ask:
What is it in you, that they
don’t want to look like you.

Remember one thing:
Remember one thing:

Rule #2:
There is nothing more frightening
than the amount of ignorance that
accumulates from inert fact.

You’ve got two versions: the virgin
and the machine, like the belief
you’ll still feel cleans when there
is no ocean / in the gap between
protect and what they choose
to protect–America.

Little children,
I don’t always recognize the unrest
in your revelry.

The way you arm yourselves in black
& white as if your eyes open
and close for the first time

as if an international funeral
pyre. You ask, "America, what color
will you fire
when you die?

Will you burst
in the palm radiant
as a fist full of sugar?

How sweet is that Justice
that hold a blind eye?
Will she weep when
there’s nothing left of you
to keep?

Rule #3:
I saw a photograph
of a man holding his son
in a shirt that reads "black guns

The media is alive
because someone else is
dead. & hell, not only bitches

want Nikes. We gotta keep ourselves
in check. Even I wanna lace myself
in a running that’s real. You know
the running is real
even if you don’t love the race

in America, we wear Nikes
even when we Converse
even if it’s inverse:

Rule #1:
Get fly and drowned.
Lace up like there is no finish
line. Like you are

the marker of this moment.
I mean this monument of mourning
I mean the sky always mornings
Turning pinks from what it greys:

You may know no Goddess
of Victory but

rock the swoosh
every day, trying to
open Heaven’s Gate.

You’ve got two versions:

The one I lay to my chest
just so I can hear your heart beat.

& the one your heart beats.

I Miss You
—from I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean

Pablo asks me when
I first knew I loved
the ocean.
He & I watch
the waves at Hermosa
ululate into grander versions
of themselves until a wall
reaches heaven like
I fell in love
the first time you took me
snorkeling. (I want to say
I saw the metaphor
but I can’t.)
I got so lost
in the corral
of my own breath
I could not feel
the riptide carry
me deep amidst
the estuary.
grabbed my ankle
pulled me in
with the force of both
your arms. I could have died
then. I could have died
right then—
receding from my nose
and eyelids—your heart
flashing into me.
a wave breaks, there are
three means of encounter:
face the water head on, let
it bawl you like a car
crash; swim fast
as you can; succumb.

About Shayla Lawson

Contributor headshot, Shayla Lawson

Shayla Lawson has written for Salon, Guernica, & ESPN and is a 2017 MacDowell Fellow. She is the author of A Speed Education in Human Being (Sawyer House Press, 2013), the chapbook Pantone (Miel Books, 2016), and the forthcoming I Think I'm Ready to See Frank Ocean (Saturnalia Books, 2018).

She can be found on the web at www.shaylalawson.com and on twitter at @blueifiwasnt.

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