about the author

Denzel Xavier Scott has been published in Spillway, Bombay Gin, The Missing Slate, Apeiron Review, The Gambler Mag, Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal, and Linden Avenue Literary Journal. He was nominated for Meridian’s annual Best New Poets anthology of 2016. Denzel earned his BA in English from the University of Chicago and his Writing MFA at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in his hometown of Savannah, GA.

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One Poem  

Denzel Xavier Scott

Burying Blackberry with Nightshade

My brother, Randolph, midnight prince,
black, haloed sun of my mother’s world,
was newly twenty-eight years old
when he was sprayed with bullets,
unarmed, like they were raindrops,
and he, a child at play.

They ripped through him
in the city of our birth,
Savannah, Georgia,
of looming oaks, silvery moss,
good ol’ Southern hospitality and headstones,
in its first, not its only,
mass shooting of 2015.

His girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend/
possible former side-piece/
other potential father
of her now three-year-old
unclaimed daughter,
shot him along with that girlfriend
who was shot twice in the face,
her cousin, who was shot in the hip,
and that cousin’s two children who were both shot,
the youngest, the then two-year-old
baby girl, brutally shot in the chest.

Bullets tore through my brother
in the last hours of the first day of that year
and by the dawn of its second,
he was the only one dead.

He bled out like a fresh slain hog
on the dirty, hunter green
carpet of his girlfriend’s apartment
in a complex as ferocious
as a hornet’s nest
licked by an ol’ gray
Savannah slave brick.

When he died, our mother,
cloaked in an obsidian hijab,
like the black Madonna,
followed the burial practice
of their Islamic faith and washed his
corpse, soft and sweet, soft and sweet,
like he was her newborn once more.

All that did my family suffer,
and yet not even five months
later, my father died from the
grief of burying his firstborn,
his namesake, in the rich uncaring soil.

Now they rest side by side,
behind a plantation,
in the hidden city of Shad,
crowded by our ancestors,
slaves and freemen alike.

So bitter was our tragedy,
so exquisite our rage,
that even biblical vengeance
could not quell our indignation.

Retribution was our birthright
more than a hundred times
and we knew it.
But the gun, the smoking barrel,
hard and hot, black like our love
and its iniquities and creations,

black, blue
black, purpled
deep, like our
royal melanin,

could not be our inheritance
if we wished to remain human
and bury the Phoenix born
in the deaths of our dark beloveds,
sweet blackberry and sweeter nightshade.

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