By Darius Simpson
Featured Art: Open Lock, Akron, Ohio by James Henry Moser
complain about the weather. wait five minutes
watch the boys you grew up with outgrow you
bury your cousin. go sledding on the tallest hill you can find
keep a family warm until their son thaws out of prison
ice skate between the skyscrapers downtown
inherit an emergency exit sign from your father
spray-paint your best friend’s brother on a t-shirt
daydream your way through a semester-long funeral
watch jeans and sleeves and family portraits unravel
play soccer with the black boys who almost evaporated
with the icicles. kick it outside with the skeletons
from your childhood. go to columbus and pretend
to be a grown-up. spend a weekend at kalahari resort
and call it a vacation. go back home. leave. shoot dice
with the dead boys playing dress up. stay long enough
to become a tourist attraction in a city nobody stops in
mount bikes and ride until the sun dribbles
out of the sky’s mouth. wade through the oatmeal july makes
of morning air. swim in a public pool where everyone
is drowning and no one knows how to survive
what happened last month. stop runnin in and out unless
you got somethin’ on the gas bill. seal yourself with cold air
while the trees melt. bet the boy down the street, who’ll have
the best first day fit. come out amid orange leaves lookin fresher
than all the food in a five-mile radius of granny’s house.
eat jojos from rizzi’s on sunday after pastor guilt trips you
on your way past the pulpit. dream about a city
where headstones don’t show up to dinner unannounced
where fried chicken isn’t on speed dial and diabetes
isn’t the family heirloom. where grief isn’t so molasses
root for lebron in whatever he’s wearing. become
an athlete as a way out of corner sales. never escape.
start a pickup game that never ends. rake leaves
with a rusted afro pick your older brother left you in his will.
let the leaf bags melt into the chimney on the side of the house.
play basketball with the ghosts who don’t know what year it is
volunteer at your local funeral home. open a cemetery
across the street from the playground. mow green.
cut ties with your grass-seller. survive the summer.
Darius Simpson is a writer, educator, performer, and skilled living room dancer from Akron, Ohio. His work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, American Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, and others. Darius believes in the dissolution of empire and the total liberation of all Africans by any means necessary.