Chaser My mother tells me I look like the reason she started drinking. When my father told us That he was leaving, she searched thru his things to find traces of the next woman; A blonde strand of hair, as if to say: "I don't need you anymore" That night, she found a bottle of Hennessy, started chasing my father down to the bottom of it. These days, I can’t tell her sober from her slumber. I just want to be the reason she wakes up again. The day we drive to my first semester of college, She is a slur of tears and alcohol telling me this is everything she ever dreamed of; I am becoming more than my father was— leaving for all the right reasons. In the car, I fall asleep drunk off my mother's approval. When I wake up, I am in a hospital bed. My neck, broken in four places. The doctor wheel me over to my mother. her bruises, the darkest shade of whiskey. She has so many nerve damages, I can see the last nerve she always claimed I got on. Tubes run through her entire body A machine has to breathe for her. My mother's injuries are so severe they make mine look like a scraped knee. I am afraid of her dying before hearing a proper "I love you." Months later, she wakes from her coma, and returns home. Her left arm is paralyzed, but she is sober, and full of fight. She says her arm is a deadbeat father: hasn't held her back before, doesn't plan on starting today. Our family tries to keep her from lifting a finger, but my mother always needs someone to need her. She loves by cleaning, cooking and holding the entire family together With one arm. I say: I am ready to move into my own place. She says: You are your father's child I tell her this is me leaving for all the right reasons; to become the man she raised me to be. All she hears is, "I don't need you anymore." I don't feel like the son she’s dreamed of. I feel like a chaser to her next shot. Family Reunion I'm so excited that Uncle Tommy finally showed up to the reunion. Soon as he came in, I begged him to play some football wit' me, but he say, "I paid $500 for dis suit n I ain’t finna get no dirt on it." Uncle Tommy get like that sometimes, but Ma' say he come in all proper and sadiddy; got us thinkin’ we came underdressed to the barbecue we be throwin' each summer. Errbody lookin’ 'round like dey seen a ghost cuz Tommy'nem ain't been here since he got that new job up on Wall Street. Cousin Earl keep asking to borrow Tommy's Benz to go to the store, Jaime wanna hold 5 dollars, Tommy say, "I stop comin' ‘round here cuz y'all don't know how to act around nice things.” Erryone tryna catch up wit’ Tommy lil girl - Big Momma say she ain't see her since she was ‘bout 'ye high. Uncle Richie smellin' like PawPaw's whiskey closet, tryna smooth talk her to his ‘68 Cadillac wit’ de emblem missing. Talkin ‘bout "Girl, yuh dun grown up into sum fine Yung thang. Watcho' momma been feeding you?" Tommy's son wanna play wit’ Auntie Pearl's boys, but Tommy sayin' they might be a bad influence, ‘cuz he know dem boys got sticky fingers e’er since his designer Neiman Marcus cufflinks went missing ‘bout three summers ago. Auntie Pearl say, "My boys ain't no thieves, and dem cufflinks is knock offs anyway. Den Tommy start complaining ‘bout de food bein’ unhealthy. Ma' say, "Him use’ta be de first one runnin’ fo’ Big Momma's desserts. Now alla sudden he don't eat sweet potato pie no mo'. Actin’ all brand new n shit. Askin’ if we got sum Frank Sinatra to play, cuz he don't want his kids listenin’ to James Brown, Frankie Beverly, Al Green, or none of that devils' music. Back in the day, Uncle Tommy would call that soul music, but I guess he ain’t got one of those no more. Cousin Mabel askin' why Tommy comin’n all did up and bougie like he going to church. N Tommy call her a country bumpkin. N Mabel tell Tommy to ‘member where he came from. N Tommy say he tryna forget that. Mabel's fiancée Greg is mad. Papa Jenkins gotta referee ‘tween Greg ‘n Tommy. Greg call Tommy white-washed. Tommy call Greg jealous. Greg call Tommy, Uncle Tom. Tommy call Greg a field nigger. Now erryone's all offended, wonderin’ who invited Tommy. Sayin’ dey not coming back next summer if he coming. Aunt Joyce tryna keep the peace. Auntie Pearl boys bring out de cufflinks to see that'll stop de fighting. But now Tommy's even more mad cuz de boys had de cuff links all dis time. N now everyone's screaming. N Big Momma's getting a headache. N all I wanted was sumone to throw de football around wit’. The Crucifixion: Matthew 27, for Michael 27 And then the officers of Ferguson took Michael into the street and gathered upon him the whole neighborhood. And Michael raised his palms — the Whitest flag He could offer 28 When they orchestrated Him an elegy of lead — 29 And planted it upon His head, and chest, and arm, and one in His right hand 30 They did not bow before Him, for He is not King nor Savior, but another Black body that will not be avenged 31 And mocked His kin, said Darren Wilson will not be indicted The way George Zimmerman will not be convicted 32 The way Eric Garner will not become Lazarus 33 And when they come unto a place called Ferguson or Sanford or Staten Island 34 Which is to say: a place called Mourning 35 And they crucified him — parted His Black from His bone. And in the sixth hour there was darkness — all the Black in the city had gathered. And in the ninth hour they wept. And Michael Sr. had taken the body, and wrapped it in a suit, casket sharp. And on the 107th day there was fire, for Michael had yet to be risen from the dead — for he was truly the Son of Black America. I told myself I wouldn't write the Black poem/About how death calls us the way parents call children for supper/ Then I told myself I could survive if I made myself smaller/ Swallowed the key to my voice box/All Black biographies end in execution/I decided it was more important to be alive than acknowledged/Then the silence was deadly/Then bullets sang Cardinal birds throughout Brooklyn/Then the tears caught up to me/The tears that did not fall for St. Kimani, St. Akai, St. Freddie/ St. Jordan St. Tamir St. John/ How the dead Black Boys names start to read like scripture/ Then the protests were misnamed for riots/ I didn't feel entitled to my own anger/For it belonged to the same people that owned these Black bodies for so many years/And it felt like tradition/Like a sacrifice to their God/Like Black is Sin/And Michael died for all of our Black/And we rage/We do this in remembrance of Him/And Him/And Hymn. "When the lights shut off, and it's my turn to settle down, my main concern — promise that you will, sing, about me. Promise that you will, sing, about me."