Welcome to the Jungle

by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

the dope man said don’t eat what you can’t kill
with your bare hands & so I am here, honing

the blade’s crown against a stone, my mother
and father’s names in a heart across the stone’s

face. The only difference between peacetime
& wartime is which stomachs are filled &

I have grown bored with hunger pulling
the covers to my chest. Hunger, our fluid

master. Niggas get their dope & their fades
& their gospel from the same house. Who has

the time to hunt? I ball at the mall. I pick only
the cotton that keeps me fly enough to land

on the cold side of someone’s bed for another
night. Rest in peace to the leader of the Jackson

Five. I, too, made it out the hood by sliding backwards
on an imaginary moon & yet, still, the gallows are slick with

dead & licking their lips for more & I march to them
with clean white kicks & with a rag in my pocket & with a long

black coat & with that shit talk passed down from my kin’s
kin. Momma, look at your son. Momma, I died in a dream

last night & I woke covered in your new & endless wings.
Momma, I have sharpened the knives & the forest

has opened its howling mouth. Momma, if I die,
it will not be from a lack of anything.

I am full, I am full, I can barely