my president

Danez Smith

    today, i elect jonathan, eleven & already making roads out of water    young genius, blog writer, lil community activist, curls tight    as pinky swears, black as my nation        i trust the world in his tender    blooming hands, i trust him to tell us which rivers are safe to drink    & which hold fish like a promise                             & i elect eve ewing, who i know would ms. frizzle the country                            into one big classroom where grandmas finger paint                            the national budget & uncles stand around smoking blacks                            plotting on stars for our escape            she could walk to the podium                            at her inauguration & say, the future is now, & we’d all marvel                            at the sun & moon looping the sky like a gif as the cars learned                            to fly & our skin grew bulletproof & colin kaepernick is my president, who kneels on the airbent toward a branch, throwing apples down to the children & vets                                                                             & rihanna is my president, walking out of global summits                                                                            with wine glass in hand, our taxes returned in gold                                                                            to dust our faces into coins                                                & my mama is my president, her grace stunts                        on amazing, brown hands breaking brown bread over                        mouths of the hungry until there are none unfed                                     & my grandma is my president & her cabinet is her cabinet                                    cause she knows to trust what the pan knows                                    how the skillet wins the war                                                                 & the man i saw high kicking his way down the river?                                                                he is my president         & the trans girl making songs in her closet, spinning the dark        into a booming dress? she too is my president & shonda rhimes is my president                                                                & nate marshall is my president                                 & trina is my president                                             & the boys outside walgreens selling candy                        for a possibly fictional basketball team are my presidents                         & the bus driver who stops after you yell wait! only twice                        is my pres         & the dude at the pizza spot who will give you a free slice        if you are down to wait for him to finish the day’s fourth prayer        is my president & my auntie, only a few months clean, but cleanshe is my president                                                                             & my neighbor who holds the door open when my arms                                                                            are full of laundry is my president & every head nod is my president                         & every child singing summer with a red sweet tongue is my president         & the birds                                                                 & the cooks                           & the single moms especially                                                                 & the weed dealers & the teachers                                 & the meter maid who lets you slide & the cab drivers who stop                         & the nurse’s swollen feet& the braider’s exhausted hands                                                                            & the bartender                        & beyoncé                        & all her kids                                                                & the rabbi                         & the sad girls                                                                             & the leather daddy who always stops to say good morning & the boy crying on the train & the sudden abuela who rubs his back& the uncle who offers him water & the drag queen who begins to hum                                                                             o my presidents!                                                                            my presidents!                                                                            my presidents!                                                                            my presidents!                                   show me to our nationmy only border is my body                                                         i sing your names                                                            sing your names                                                                your names                                                                             my mighty anthem

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Photo:
Tabia Yapp

Danez Smith is the author of Homie and Don’t Call Us Dead, winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection and a finalist for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. They live in Minneapolis.

Fall 2019

Charlottesville, Virginia

Poetry Editor
Aria Aber

Associate Poetry Editors
J. Bailey Hutchinson
Kendra Langdon Juskus
Nathan Lipps
Kwame Opoku-Duku

BOAAT is an online journal operating out of Charlottesville, Virginia.

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