Poem of the Week: Ungrief by Tyrone S. Palmer

for Marco McMillian, Steen Fenrich, and too many others…
I.
Let’s start with the body.
The body’s been burned.
The body was dragged,
mutilated—the eyes gouged,
faced pressed
into the curb.
The body’s been beaten,
with vigor, as though
the killer
were beating something out of himself—
the body a proxy.

The body was dumped,
days later
next to a levee.
The body was found
near the Mississippi river,
sprawled—
a kind of baptism.
II.
The devil is running
rampantly seeking
whom he may devour.

The devil’s made his home here
in Mississippi, the delta
river basin his mouth—
wide, waiting, wanting to swallow
anyone
who gets too close.

That boy done fell in.

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Sin: without; an innate
lack; a fundamental
emptiness.

(into nothingness)

That boy done fell in.
III.
He wasn’t the only one.
Another boy was deprived of his tongue
his torso
his pelvis
his lung
and the skull read “gay nigger #1”

But what does it mean to do violence to what is nothing?

“gay nigger” as metaphor.
“gay nigger” as absence.
“gay nigger” as modernity’s shadow.
“gay nigger number…”

But what does it mean to do violence to what is nothing?

**Originally published in MUZZLE Magazine**

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