father’s ___________ withers a tree to its narrative
of rings & becomes his answer. blackbird – ready to listen
for a dad who would precede him in nest &, yet,
all that, beneath his absent-reason for why he gone,
becomes Darwin’s finch; competing for life worth living
as the stomach aches for a word that is, was, or will be,
“bond.” wherever the heavens’ paternal/god
gapes a beak to feed, a storm comes to fill
us. we forget
to find tears for our bones unmade
like twigs by the aim! fire!
from thunder of gray stratus clouds
in this moment, billowing
of silence. (look!) burned go my mother’s wings again
st[r]uck by rainfall, (i don’t know) making dead birds
question that which they heard. & dead birds of
a feather still flock. & they mock my mother’s hesitance
together. they laugh but, i get her. i loves her. i have
inherited her flinch at those that say
they gon “fly,” yet they’ll “…return.” i tell my mother,
i wasn’t able to mosaic
whichever shrapnel that my father left inside as a “promise”,
but i want to so, moms, open up at least a mouth
for me on his behalf. i say/i need. tell me of my father’s
escaping he can’t just retain, or keep to himself
& even after i am a pile of feathered bone dancing
into dust, i still might not find “enough”. but at least i have
truth. i don’t know (who knows?) what promise my father
made to her but
i did make sure to keep searching for it, for
whomever needs them a man. i claw & dig away with wings
&, like a God in this nest, i unearth gray stratus clouds,
again. & decades worth of myth mists escape me like [this –
his broken promise ] & i bite, chew & i grit through
where the thunder emptied its whole archive into my home/nest/twig
“wow. was this a cage that i bit too? oh. is this want to be enough for you: how my birdbeak mistakes a birdcage for stubborn twigs? was it bad dna that had st[r]uck as storm & let blood somersault across my body? this whole time? this why i was born unmade? because since birth i was thrown in a cage wherein not a thing in it rattled like parent’s love? how? did my father think i was a Phoenix? are these his ashes he forgot in me, or am i burning? & is that a lock? i only know five answers for certain…”
1. i am not my father’s Phoenix.
2. home must be wherever we kiss to keep the warmth in & shut the smoke out.
3. neglected & abandoned are fires that could only be manmade.
4. & this is why some good mother would call her baby’s saliva vaseline – a thing must protect the skin from crisps because some boys’ wings got to hurt more, burn brighter, than the birds.
5. lightning. who knows if it’s what he left me, or why he left her? but if my father’s answer for why he gone? had a name, it would be lightning. what else could it be? i too get so afraid of lightning, dad, i fly away. alone.
Residing in Queens, NY, Trace DePass is an alum of Urban Word NYC, and was the 2016 Teen Poet Laureate for the Borough of Queens. He received a National Gold Medal from Scholastic for his writing portfolio, “Black Boyhood,” wherein one piece was published in Scholastic’s Best Teen Writing of 2015. Also, Trace is currently a juror and editor at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Trace is interested in curating conversations on queer & non-binary masculinity through prose, poetry, & playwriting.