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Mike Brown is Eighteen

By Trace Howard DePass

[And legal]            now.
[Taking full advantage of the enough he is.
Might go sign up for the war.
Might as well.

Still can't get drunk,
or perhaps get a real loan
without offering his death,
as if it were even legal

to be young, black, living
and really living.
He is no exception.
Just "legal"             now:

Legal to sex and war
and sign permission slips
for his own intents
and purposes.

What is a young black life?
But, thick hair,
good organs for the taking,
and crying mothers,

Anyhow. If that. Then,
what makes him feel that
he had the right to be
rendered enough?

To be black and worthy
of the space we take up
feels paradoxical
now and then;

It is his only constant,
his forgotten privilege,
to have inherited
a surplus of self-doubt.

But, he's legal now,
old enough to be
declared "enough of that"
and withstand it all.]

Might as well...



Listen as Trace Howard DePass reads "Mike Brown is Eighteen."

Added: Thursday, June 1, 2017  /  Used with permission. Trace DePass' "Mike Brown is Eighteen" is the 1st place award winner for the 2015 World and Me Poetry Contest through Split This Rock.
Trace Howard DePass
Photo by Nicholas Nichols.

Trace Howard DePass is the beatboxing author of Self-portrait as the space between us (PANK Books, 2018), which was a finalist for the 2019 Eric Hoffer Book Prize. He served as the editor of Scholastic’s Best Teen Writing of 2017 & as the 2016 Teen Poet Laureate for the Borough of Queens. His work has been featured on screen and radio—BET Next Level, Billboard, Blavity, Poetry Foundation, Ours Poetica, and NPR’s The Takeaway—and in print— SAND Journal, Entropy Magazine, Sonora Review, Platypus Press, Split This Rock, The Poetry Project, Bettering American Poetry (Volume 3), & Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series. DePass is a Poetry Incubator, Teaching Artist Project, & Poets House Fellow.

Other poems by this author