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Breaking & Entering

By Darrel Alejandro Holnes

Sleep by Kehinde Wiley: Oil on Canvas: 2008

Only beasts are supposed to hibernate.
But this brother has been lying there
for years. Truth isn’t a news headline.
Between the lines lay his body, between
brush strokes
his soul ascends doing those things
portraits rarely capture:
giving life, giving face, serving. 
A Black man’s body
on display hangs in a museum.
He appears wrapped in a bed sheet
covering his private parts as if
he was a sexless Christ,
as if his private parts made him prey,
or as if both prey and Jesus were one in the same.
But perhaps it’s just respectful to cover
a dead man or at least to cover where he may have been
broken into. Praise to the angel who gave
him wings of canvas and gesso paint—
a better burial than the other brothers got,
those over there, just left on the street.




Listen as Darrel Alejandro Holnes reads "Breaking & Entering."

Added: Friday, January 29, 2021  /  Used with permission.
Darrel Alejandro Holnes
Photo by Thomas Kuhn.

Darrel Alejandro Holnes is a Panamanian-American poet and playwright. His books include STEPMOTHERLAND (Notre Dame Press, 2021) and Migrant Psalms (Northwestern University Press, 2021), winners of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize and the Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize, respectively. Holnes is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and the CP Cavafy Poetry Prize from Poetry International. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Dramatic Writing at the City University of New York: Medgar Evers College, and a faculty member of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. To learn more about the poet, visit Darrel Alejandro Holnes' website.

Other poems by this author