Four Poems – Julian Randall


Fuck Tha Police: a Family History in my Father’s voice

I overheard your mother saying 
she more hood than me
fuck that.
now your mother she from 
Washington Heights in the 60’s
she season all her food 
with things that sound like blood
but   she don’t really know
what blood sounds like.
She’s never seen an entire city bus
implode from the first sound
of some nigga’s throat
or the weight of
his finger on
a boombox
and then every-
thing howls chaos
a storm of tense flesh
craving nothing but escape
and only finding more maze
and everything that does to bones.
Which is an arthritis I picked up in St. Louis.
so what I’m saying is that your mother isn’t Black
Doesn’t understand blood
Not like I do
	Every night I pray to every god
	that I haven’t outgrown
	that she never has to
	but she’s got you
		and every night
		i watch her come undone at the nerves
			like a forest that only prays for uproot.
all she wants is you
but she also doesn’t understand
that nobody runs that fast anymore.
i’ve known this because your great uncle was a cop
and one time he ran a nigga till his heart exploded
and i spent most of my college years wondering
what that would feel like 
and then i met you.
But before that a nigga stole my wallet
and i ran him from 110th to 135th
until he turned around 
and gave that shit back.
So see a family history
	Is only ever 
		A fable of blood
		Is inherited skin
		Is a chronicle of who stopped running first
So see neither of you knows what that song means
until you’ve seen someone scraped clean of their harvest
You don’t really know running
Like i know it
And I can’t run very fast anymore
i’m only a captive night sky
and the smoke that disappeared 
inside it
		and i’ve coated my lungs in ash
	but i’m not ready to hold you like that
i’d sooner kill you myself.


“They say that Heaven’s real”- Kendrick Lamar

Maybe I’m that now
	I two-step better than the sun
And the rope
	I flirt with my own shadow 
I’m not used to being
	the light but it comes natural
I’m past the solemn
	wood and let the jeweled glow
of stained glass praise
the percussion of woeful
	hands keeping time with 
My feet all mine now
	no matter what the soil says
Maybe this is what home
	means everyone chasing you
But I’m not a quiet
I bloom loudly
	into all the light
Wearing the moon
	on my face
Because why not
	I’m endless
Nobody can stop
			I’m everywhere now

Mick Jenkins Speaks of Rivers in a Time of Drought*

Unfortunate events raised me 
watch me     inhale 
all this    water
Perils of a shortage of home
            make no mistake
all I've known
is what I told myself
a martyr is a thirsty Southside nigga

The Rivers’ Rebuttal
I seen a whole lot of shit
my throne so clear
I know you know niggas
And I know bones
       I ain't no killer
but guarantee they'll see God in
my water

On Finding My Notorious BIG Shirt from 9th Grade
After Angel Nafis

A village of Black dots
merge into an ageless face
      a single eye, 
everything I never hoped
     to see again,   
Once, I was a greying migrant
in my own country;
no Bigger than my own fists.
I ate only what was long dead,
each name American.
This shirt, Black
at full volume.
And praise that it still fits,
the single eye migrating
from stomach to chest.
the thick cotton 
beneath it
a boy
followed always
by the threat of winter

*An erasure of Dehydration from Mick Jenkin’s mixtape The Waters

About Julian Randall

Julian Randall is a Living Black poet from Chicago. A 2016 Callaloo fellow and two time national college slam competitor, he traveled to the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) earning the title of Best Poet. He currently works as a teaching artist with the Philly Youth Poetry Movement. His work has appeared in Winter Tangerine Review, The Killens Review, and Pluck! A Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. He wants to talk to you about Static Shock, Kanye West and Blackness in the early 2000’s View all posts by Julian Randall

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