About this Poem 

“In a culture where the historical construct of race has been used to harm people in the effort to maintain power and claim privilege, this poem seeks to complicate and reveal how we are the makers and perpetrators of that culture, even when we are supposedly only consuming it. Our choices, including passivity, affect others.”
Amy King

You Make the Culture

The words became librarians, custodians of people
I looked for on the bridge.
I forgot my own face.
I read the book backwards, and
I painted your name in lace
(I drink only the milk of script as beer).
I dislocate all gallery aesthetics,
I carry keys for Baltimore and
Go where no one is my name.
I wish I could sculpt a healing street
from a blanket of guns. The way the sun drops
behind a one-armed cop & we default
to believing in voices. This is the trough of sleep
we draw from. Even gravity works at night.
If I pull your speech on the carpet of impossibility,
will you speak this immediate need for movement?
The immediate need of not drowning in public?
I will walk with the sharks of our pigments
if that's what inconclusive data requires,
until we leave rooms that hold us apart. 
What you see as a small minority, I see
as closer to liberatory. Nothing comes from the center
that doesn't break most everything in parts. 
I break bread with the handwriting of words.
Nothing of appearance is always an illusion.
Lend me your book when you finish
writing it. I’ll be the first to fill in its spaces.

Copyright © 2015 by Amy King. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 18, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets

Copyright © 2015 by Amy King. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 18, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets

Amy King

Amy King

Amy King is the author of The Missing Museum (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2016) and I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press, 2011). 

by this poet

poem
Man acts as an antenna for the sun
and then: a trout in the milk, 
men who wear kilts after darkness. 
Build a bottle of fish with a few dried figs. 
Dear Shadow,
when did I become that person?  
I mean one who says "plastic glucose" 
without wondering what 
rotten-sweet is? The one who teenagers
represent?
poem

Shame on you for dating a museum:
Everything is dead there and nothing is alive.
Not everyone who lives to be old embraces
the publicity of it all. I mean, you get up and folks
want to know, How did you get here? What makes you
go? What is the secret?
And there is no secret except

2
poem
A tiny face of genius & tolerance
brands itself organic
abrupt vampire of himself, of health,
stoned circle of having risen—
 
Why the natural inclination to pet,
to be affection with a soul made of bone
on haunches among honeysuckle
and little else to dine upon?
 
I wasn't able to claim the backs
of my legs