After Murder

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After murder,

the complex changes

names. The Flats,

The Villas, pretty gauze

for old wounds. As if


we forgot the bullets,

the children that fell, the angry

boyfriends living w/children

they do not love. I drive by

& try to remember when


pieces fit. A cloud

of cardinals explodes

from a snow drift, the splash

of my tires etching dirt


in the bank. All this flying,

impact, stain. Don’t tell me

you can’t see.




Your welcome

to the neighborhood

is the Crips killing a Dozen

Cousin 2 blocks down

from the townhouse

you just moved into, shot-

guns & shells

@ the community center

where you will take swimming lessons, sink

like a Midwest boy

out of time. This

after punk rock & bitter beer

in a church basement, bodies

slamming against each other as if dying

to be whole. This

after you are fresh

from cornfields, the silk

still in wisps

behind your ears.

Years drift, & you curse

Columbus, wonder

Little Paul, Ray,

Stacy, Special K, the West

High good times crew.

Who is rotting

in the belly, who dared take

another bite, who

got past probation

officers visiting @ lunch time,

who endured the shaking

hand, the gat they had to grip

after school? Who can read

any of this, rise,

say I?


© 2017 Mitchell L. H. Douglas

Mitchell L. H. Douglas is the author of Cooling Board: A Long-Playing Poem and \blak\ \al-fə bet\. His next poetry collection, dying in the scarecrow’s arms, is forthcoming from Persea Books in 2018. Douglas’ poem “After Murder” is featured on


  1. Beautiful

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