Recorded for Poem-a-Day, September 16, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This is protest. Repeatedly brown and black bodies are being brutalized in our country. In this case, the shooting of a compliant Charles Kinsey by North Miami police. His hands were empty and raised. According to reports, when Kinsey asked the officer why he shot him, the officer replied, ‘I don’t know.’”
—David Tomas Martinez

The/A Train

A honey badger’s skin can
withstand multiple blows
from machetes, arrows,
and spears, but these rusted
weapons haven’t killed
anything in years, so that may
be the lesson there, that
there is no there there, like
many poems, like many
revolutions, and maybe there
isn’t a there there in many
people only that foggy
anachronistic lizard eye,
or what I have come to call
the part of consciousness that
builds impediments, isolates,
the “supertrump.” Or
what New Yorkers call
subways. Or what a King
calls a dream. Or what X
called Y. What the crowd
yells as lit, The Cave calls dim.
What they deem in West
Tejas as a fancy evening out
is rocking on the porch,
aint they good at irony,
where watching the fugitive
moon runaway takes days,
like the time I caught the C
I hoped was an A, and saw a
butterfly move in what I can
only say is protest. The wings
made small combustions
through the car. Eyes trained.
The awful is tracked by
awe. An officer lifts his
gun, yells to raise your hands
higher the TV flutters.
Watch it. They will
call you moth and kill you.

Copyright © 2016 by David Tomas Martinez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 16, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by David Tomas Martinez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 16, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

David Tomas Martinez

David Tomas Martinez

David Tomas Martinez is the author of Hustle (Sarabande Books, 2014) and the forthcoming Crosshatched (Sarabande Books, 2016). He is finishing his PhD in poetry at the University of Houston. Martinez lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

by this poet

poem

I must
          not succeed.

                      Success is the mind-killer.

Success
           is the little-death
           that brings total

obliteration. I will face

                                 my success. I will

permit it to pass

2
poem

And sometimes it is
loss

                                                       that we lose,

          and sometimes

it is just lips. When I was


                           a child, I would ask my mother
to tuck me

                             in, wrap me tight in

poem

1.

It's not water to wine to swallow harm,
though many of us have,

and changing the name
of Ozark Street to Willie Jones Street,
won't resuscitate,

won't expose how the sun roars across rows of faces
at the funeral for a seventeen-year-old-boy,

won't stop the double