“Boys” by Angel C. Dye

March 9, 2018

This poem is part of our #BlackLivesMatter special issue, guest-edited by Katrina Otuonye. Read more at our #BlackLivesMatter2018 tag.


for Emmett, Trayvon, Mike, Tamir, Amadou, Ezell, Ramarley, Oscar, Sean, Jordan, Kimani, Freddie, John, Eric, Philando, and all of you gone too soon

Black boys used to walls,
used to being hostage and held captive.
Burst through they mama’s havens
and crash land into America’s hands.

Can you pinpoint the moment when citizenship catapults a black boy
from playground to plantation to penitentiary?
When do we lose them—the boys, our boys?

They rap battling, shooting dice, playing PlayStation one day
then bright-eyed pearly smiling obituary photos the next.
My boys ain’t even sprouted through the soil of my womb yet,
and I’m terrified that calloused hands waiting to yank them
up by the roots already.

If New Jim Crow don’t get ‘em, scared Officer Jim will.

How do we protect the gold, the treasure in our sons?
How do we tell them they priceless, they magic, they beautiful—
but they not timeless?

They tough but they velvet, bound but spirited, endangered but limitless.
They not eternal, they not forever, but they here right now
and we fightin for every moment cuz they sweet kings, little princes,
and no one can see the sparkle of a crown when it’s buried.


Angel C DyeAngel C. Dye is a poet from Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas who writes to ask, process, and practice catharsis even when her skinfolk cannot or do not. She writes because growing up in the Pentecostal church taught her that there are different ways to pray. Her writing unpacks mental illness and unconventional or fragmented family ties. She is committed to illuminating injustice and suffering but also joy and triumph in black narratives. Angel is a graduate of Howard University and an MFA in Creative Writing candidate at the University of Kentucky. Her poetry has appeared in African Voices MagazineSixfold Journal, and About Place Journal. Visit her online at edenworkspublishing.com.

Leave a Reply