Paranoiac N° 5: Hoplomania
Everybody got a pistol / everybody got a ·45and the philosophy seems to be / least near as I can seewhen other folks give up theirs / I’ll give up mine— Gil Scott-Heron, “Gun “
The gun appears at a gathering of little niggas in the driveway. The gun appears with a pearl handle, in silk, in a lockbox inside my mother's headboard. The gun appears on the belt of a middle school liaison. The gun appears in leather atop my father's woven-wood placemat. The gun appears tucked on the waist of my big brother. The gun appears with those other niggas at the Mini Mart. The gun appears as a shotty pointed before my windshield. The gun appears in the bando on the bend of its cushion. The gun appears in chrome, stuck through the window of a Dodge, firing outside of Paradise. The gun appears as signage. The gun appears soaking the lot with a steady light. The gun appears behind the bulletproof glass at BP. The gun appears in hand at the table of a drunk. The gun appears as a misfire. The gun appears at my boy's crib—as a stick. The gun appears before the weather. The gun appears unbuckled on the officers who abound me. The gun appears in the basement, a father and his three sons fill thirty clips that hold fifteen rounds each. The gun appears in double. The gun appears on a strap while my other brother eats a sandwich. The gun appears on the counter behind where I sit. The gun appears in the mind of my Uber driver having heard me make a clink. The gun appears loaded. The gun appears as a Warhol—a print tacked on the head of a shut room. The gun appears off another hip. The gun appears in front of the tiny air in my face. The gun appears as a joke. The gun appears as my fist in a hot mouth in no time.
Copyright © 2018 by Jonah Mixon-Webster
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Jonah Mixon-Webster is a poet-educator and conceptual/sound artist from Flint, MI. His debut poetry collection, Stereo(TYPE), was selected by Tyrone Williams for the 2017 Sawtooth Poetry Prize from Ahsahta Press, was awarded the 2019 PEN America/Joyce Osterweil Prize, and was a finalist for the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. He is completing his Ph.D. in English Studies at Illinois State University and is the recipient of fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, The Conversation Literary Festival, Images & Voices of Hope, and Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. His poetry and hybrid works are featured in various publications including Callaloo, Spoon River Poetry Review, HEArt Online, PEN America, Best New Poets 2017, PennSound, and Best American Experimental Writing 2018.
“Stereo(TYPE) is an urgent cri de fe, a fiery pre-emptive strike against, and homage to, the next generation of masters and mistresses, terms that apply equally to those taking up the mantles of white supremacy and those (e.g., Kara Walker, Dawn Lundy Martin, Richard Pryor, Tisa Bryant, Douglas Kearney) making up their own suprematist/constructivist responses to the pecking orders, sidestepping self-immolation in the process. Terse, flippant, and more often right than wrong, Stereo(TYPE) is an ambidextrous skill set, multiplex declensions of that unwritten book called The Descent of Negro.”
—Tyrone Williams, judge of the 2017 Sawtooth Poetry Prize
“Jonah Mixon-Webster’s potent debut Stereo(TYPE) is kerosene for the torch, for an empire in dire need of being burned clean. His is a language wild with imaginative annihilation: of ‘the contagion that carries itself into the host,’ and the violence of ‘the body’s ruin.’ These urgent, rebellion-driven poems do not ask for supplication, though—if we’re brave enough—invite us to gather in the midst of apocalypse and look, sing, juke: at ourselves ‘as dust nursed by twilight,’ as ‘unholy witness,’ as ‘now neither one is it.’ This collection, for some, is a revelation. For others, a war-cry into the light.”
“Jonah Mixon-Webster’s high lyricism guides us through Stereo(TYPE), rife with syntax and language that jumps out on the page. The root of the word ‘poem’ means ‘to make’, and that is what Mixon-Webster is doing in these pages: making. Mixon-Webster is a master of experimentation, for his work reads across multiple genres, creating new hybrids: poem-plays, poem-myths, poem-dreams, poem-dialogues, and more. This work is alive, demanding to be reckoned with, respected, and recognized.”