Candace Williams
| TWO POEMS

Bop: The Field

On Sunday mornings, helmets cradle heads
of black boys
who drill tackling
from the hip
They stand in a circle
waiting for their names

Stay in                              the field                              O warrior!
Stay in the field             until the war                      has ended

The boy in the middle can’t leave
until he’s taken a hit
from each 8-year-old
Coach calls him punk
if his body clears the pit
Coach says meaner things
if Hawks hesitate or hold back
The boy in the middle grits his mouthguard

Stay in                              the field                              O warrior!
Stay in the field             until the war                      has ended

Onlookers cheer each crunch
of collision: the clatter of polycarbonate protecting
fledgling bones and organs
The team peels off white
jerseys while the boy in the middle brags
the fresh bruises on his chest

Stay in                              the field                              O warrior!
Stay in the field             until the war                      has ended

Spells for Black Wizards

Study finds white men who endorse racial ‘color-blindness’ are less attracted
to black women

Pick poppies in a summer-lit field
On sight of a blood moon, utter the incantation “I don’t see race”
in four dead languages
For a moonrise, your melanin will be imperceptible

Baltimore County Council rejects housing anti-discrimination bill

Twist the corkscrew counter-clockwise to open a bottle
of wine vinted the day you were born
Dab a drop of wine on your wrist
for each point of your credit score over 500
Imbibe a full glass for each year
of grad school you’ve completed
Your rental or mortgage application will fall
under gentler eyes

Tiny South Carolina town bans sagging pants, threatens fines

If 33 belts keep your pants pulled high, you won’t be stopped or frisked
Breathe easy if the belts are all a different shade of blue
the hands of boys in blue
can’t encircle your neck

White doctors may think blacks have greater tolerance for pain

Wet your fingertip and point toward the breeze
If the wind blows east in the eve of your pain, ask your godmother to massage
her tears into your temples
Open your bedroom door with your left hand and carry a vial
of last night’s sweat in your left pocket
Pangs of pain will inflame
your doctor’s heart

Trayvon Martin was suspended three times from school

Your master’s degree, paid off in full before a full compounding period, can stop blood
from escaping a wound
Honor it
with stillness and wine
at your altar

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This poem borrows headlines from the Baltimore Sun, RawStory, NBC News, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.