A Poem For Friday

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 16 2013 @ 8:36pm

Harlem Holds Vigil For Trayvon Martin

Matthew Kelty is a playwright living in Hawaii whose plays, including “Flood,” “The Clay Pot Bloom,” and “When a Storm Comes” have been performed in New York and regionally. He is currently updating one called “Black and Blue.” Kelty hasn’t published poetry since his college days, but he took pen to paper on the night that the Zimmerman verdict was announced. “The poem was my attempt to translate what I think the country should be feeling–rage and regret at the loss of so many young lives like Trayvon’s–into the words of one sorrowful and vengeful father who’s lost his son.” Here’s “Father”:

Flame. Bring me.
Bring me torches, matches, candles, lanterns:
I can’t see.
Bring me kindling: branches, twigs.
Bring switches like my father used to tan my hide when I’d done wrong.
I want switches to tan hides.

Bring me spruce, pine, dogwood.
Bring me slow-burning oak: I want this fire to last.
Bring me conifers; bring me cones. Bring me rods and cones, eyes,
I want eyes, I can’t see, bring me eyes I can’t see.
Bring me limbs, trunks and limbs, torsos and limbs,
bring me bodies bring me my son’s body, my son my son where is
my son bring me bodies ‘til they bring me my son.
Bring me wood and bark, the bark, the harsh cough of command to
bring me forests, bring me jungles, bring me nations to burn as a
funeral pyre. Burn forests to the ground burn this city to the ground
smoke is everywhere I can’t see
no fire so strong as my son no fire so bright as his face
bring me the past to burn bring me my son for his funeral pyre
my son my son where is my son all I taste is ashes I want ashes I want
my son bring me my son.

Bring me.

(Photo: Mourners participate in a candlelight vigil for Trayvon Martin on July 15, 2013 in New York City. By Andrew Burton/Getty Images)