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Category: Douglas Manuel

Loud Looks

You better rap, my brother

says—he can

b-box his ass off.

Got DJ scratches and spins,

will drop it on the two

and four, the three and four.

Whatever you need.

Me posing my bars: My flows

are second to none, come here,

son. See how it’s done.

Wanted to be a rapper? Check.

Thought I was going to the NBA? Check.

Father went to prison? Check.

Brother too? Check.

Mother died when I was eight? Check.

Hung pictures of Luke Perry

on my bedroom wall?


Yep, give me a bit, and I’ll sprinkle

some subjectivity on it.

I loved that dude, his whisper-voice, his lean.

Auntie worried on the phone:

Girl, he got photos of some white boy

all over his walls. Me rocking out

to Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels.”

Silent head nods do more

than throw shade.

All black people are fluent

in silence. Mangled Baldwin quote?

Let’s keep wrenching. Everybody’s

fluent in silence.

You know what

a switchblade glare means. No need

to read the look she gave me

as those white man’s lyrics

flung out my mouth.

from Poetry Northwest 12.2 Winter & Spring 2018More by Douglas Manuel from the library

Copyright © Douglas Manuel
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.