By Chace Zachery Morris

Bet you never cradled your son
in your arms crease, renamed him

never slid your hand across umber
back like a slide pump after pushing
dear heavenly father & amen

into his black like a pair of shells,
buckshot prayer for the world that will
come for him.

Five dollars says you’ve never eased
your hands into your daughter’s thick curl
& heard it whisper back

in the tangled tongue of livewire, braided
wisdom into its kink & bottled fire, praying
she never has to triple-zero

at the ignorant pull of violent hands, detonated
on an empty street on a Tuesday, then called
terrorism by Thursday morning.

Youth of color are raised in glass, spit-smeared
& battle-tested because black, taught to only fire
ourselves if shattered, trigger choked.

My rag body tucked three-quarters into a fifth
of Henny’, your flag a dark comedy on marathon,
humor pouring from our bodies

but we are not laughing, realizing we live inside
a body that sees its brown as legion, and so irradiates
the entire biology to kill

its phantom cancer. Sets a drunken fire to me,
head to floor, demands I throw myself into the cold
wind a cocktail of cracked

bone and curse word, wild flail of blood
& seizure. Mama always said they’d have
a cell waiting

on me but I never knew how many
different ways that could be true. So, if we are
to be blastoma, God,

then let us metastasize, let us multiply,
malignant math tumoring in the failing brain
of the giant

until the whole system swells into asphyxia
choking on its own half-bitten-off, burnt flag
of a tongue.

By Chace Zachery Morris

When the anchor called the boy black, there was a confusion
      thick as Everglade humidity, tongue hooded in mouth,
       bulging suspiciously from behind gritting pearl,
as my heart gripped the sliding Adam’s Apple of a shotgun.

When the police call us black, I hear gun range silhouette,
       I hear New Year’s early morning sky, I hear behemoth
       with skin of Kevlar, teeth- a row of hollow points-
gunshot smile with a ravenous id
. I hear

28 bullets to teach the sum’bitch a lesson;
       51 or 1 to the head to put it down for good.
       And my blood becomes a rabid courtroom
sucker-punched not guilty, a tainted evidence.

When the comment section vipers the word black, the way
       they’ve been hissing it lately, a thousand dead
       fingers crack, combination-lock my stomach, all
searching for the impossible beast I was born of

to study, learn from, leash halo around its throat,
       slide a knife into, drink of its untapped river, paint
       their ghosts with its violent pulse, howl at everything
pale & virgin. Learn me to be that black and then some

if it means the gun will remain choked one moment
       longer, my eulogy lodged in its trachea, the officer
       too awestruck to Heimlich with his forefinger, to indulge
this nickel-plated side-piece he so lovingly nicknamed


By Chace Zachery Morris

       I’m starting to better understand the faulty
wire-cross that inspired my brother to pull
       a hunting rifle (of all things) in a parking lot
fight outside a downtown nightclub.

       Same blood slang mashing my heart into

a careless patois, a lame-leg drag of a body
       that aches triple in winter like a sharp metal
3 years inside the flesh still scraping for
       warmer climate. Have you named your shrapnel yet?

I call mines gnaw – as in to erode with teeth,

       as in loves the flavor of my marrow, thinks
I taste like chicken, as in sadomasochist grind
       until it hits submissive and grits into smile,
my wounds abusing whiskey like a safe word.

       Carlos’ gnaw was gripping the safe end
              of a steak knife like a key a month ago,
and I could tell by the way his tongue pushed
              against his closed mouth that he seriously

contemplated unlocking a man’s muscle with it

in the name of his own repair. Cancerous
       shapeshifter, its form dependent upon how it breaks
the body down: shrill, dig, smolder, thief of fire, crowbar, plague
              you give it a name because

       to cure a disease you must know its symptoms.

Maybe this the Zombie Apocalypse
              and we’ve already ran out of bullets,
       maybe this kind of desperate that turns us
on and we’re all a bit auto-erotic when it comes

       to our own asphyxiation. I mean, it would explain alot:

              why there’s never a coke mirror big enough
for us to fit our extinction on; why we forecast the Rapture
       like an album release; why on the grey days
my city looks like an empty pocket, starving

       for the heads of presidents. Why the rifle

my brother shouldered that night
       was our grandfather’s, why it was already loaded before
he snuck it out that closet, unfired
              since deer season of ’84, as if Papa was expecting

       some reckoning to drag itself blood-dirty to his doorstep,

why I scare myself more and more
       whenever I watch the evening news, classify
              less humans/more doors, my hands a tense fist
around something sharp, ghosting the lock –

       the room within.

Chace Zachery Morris is a 2013 Kresge Literary Fellow, InsideOut Literary Arts writer-in-residence & fiery Prince enthusiast from Detroit who sips Motown hot, spins tea on repeat & was greatly tempted to leave some of this blank in hopes of being classified as a possible Keyser Söze.