in the heaven I am betrothed to, everything is black
Danez Smith

the air mistaken for tar, the water a dead-ringer for a family of ravens, skin like a pupil pulling itself out of the eye – & what have these exhausted ghosts not seen? the room seemingly endless, but indeed a room, with how quickly songs come back when flung into the non-light there must be a wall, a somewhere that ends. the men, black as the air & black as the water, walk carry bags of old bones, gold teeth, brass rings, whatever the earth still wets with its slow chew. they walk forever into the black, forever into themselves, until they are not themselves, but the whole black world, until they are lost in a place with no need for sight &, for the first time, free.

Danez Smith is a Cave Canem Fellow, Pushcart Nominee, Survivor & Black Queer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the winner of the 2014 Reading Series Contest sponsored by The Paris-American, was featured in The Academy of American Poets' Emerging Poets Series by Patricia Smith & was a finalist for the 2013 Rattle Poetry Prize. Danez is the author of 'hands on ya knees', a chapbook published by Penmanship Books. His full-length collection, '[insert] Boy, will be published in 2014 by Yes Yes Books. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Devil's Lake, The Cortland Review, Anti-, & elsewhere. Danez started writing because of slams & necessity, & placed 6th in the world at the 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam & is the 2013 Rustbelt Midwest Regional Slam Champion. Danez twerks with the best, has no time for the rest. He writes & lives in Oakland, CA. Visit

more by Danez Smith:
Jim Crow, Rock Star