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Photo by Alekzan Powell on Unsplash

 

poem: DEAR LANDLORD

                                                                  after Bob and Boots

 

Please don’t put a price on my apartment.
It’s yours more than mine, though.                     You can’t
help                     but           exploit that.
So                   I’ll help you along.
I know your histories of arson. Your predilection
for insurance claims.           I’m no                     dummy—
I know hiphop was born from the sepulcher
of                     a burning Bronx. But let me do
the burning. Let me clear the place out and gut it.
It’s drafty as fuck in here, in there.                     I am both
former tenant                     and present squatter.
If rent is what I owe, let’s cinder that w/ the rest
of the property. Do it properly. I can tinker w/
wires until I’ve got flash of fire or flash of electricity.
Cut the circuitry and splice                     the lights on.
I’m cold lampin’ w/o the heat on. It’s Thanks-
giving, dear Landlord.           We’ll make our own heat.

 

 


 

 

poem: Love Affair For Real Heads

 

You can’t spell structure without suture, so
for heaven’s sake stop           stitching me up.           No
band-aids.           No white supremacy, flesh-colored
quick fixes.           None of the           dullards,                     dotards,
or reformists can save           my corpse from rigor mortising.
You can’t           warm me over with campfires
or barrel-burns           under interstate bridges. I won’t
be warmed-over,           or warned           for the last time.
What will stiffen me solider           stronger           than riotporn
is you not                     staunching the bloodflow,
seriously. That’s some snitch shit. Fink. Don’t fuck me.
Even think about it                     and I’ll never be yours.
This here is a                     gesture           against           being           sustained.

 

 


 

 

poem: White Riot

 

Why won’t white people take crowbars
to Panera?
They have the numbers
and the capacity—somewhere deep within—I believe.
The pane-glass will spiderweb shatter
something so sublime
perhaps Artforum will cover it.
White people with their cachet and their clout
and their cholesterol and their children:
they should do something.
This is nothing new. I’m not that good of a poet—
not revelatory; nothing
revolutionary here to these thoughts.
Joe Strummer sang about it in 1977:
Whiteriot,Iwannariot Whiteriot,ariotofmyown.
He called white people too chicken to even
try it.
He’s not wrong.

 


 

Joseph Rathgeber is an author and poet from New Jersey. His novel is Mixedbloods (Fomite, 2019). His story collection is The Abridged Autobiography of Yousef R. and Other Stories (ELJ Publications, 2014). His work of hybrid poetry is MJ (Another New Calligraphy, 2015). He is the recipient of a 2014 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship (Poetry) and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship (Prose).