The Gateway West
By Mikkel Snyder

So, if a city has a personality
      maybe it also has a soul.
          Maybe it dreams…

               -Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 8: Worlds’ End

And since it dreams, it has nightmares
     that read like news headlines
     and night terrors that look like an arch aflame,
     writhing in time with the dead dropping.
          The city sees itself a restless giant with
          a thousand hands seeking retribution.

And since it has a personality, it has personality disorders
          It hasn’t been sleeping, so it can’t quite recover
          City has been seeking cure, but that requires diagnosis

How did the city get like this?
Was it always like this?
What did it take?
      The blood of a black boy?
     That blood need to seep through the city’s skin?
White blood autoimmuning?
          White blood reacting violently?
     When it happened again?
     When it happened again?
     When it happened again and again and again and again and again and again and again

The city wants some questions answered:
     What year is it?
     What year did the black boy die?
     What year was it under martial law?
          All the year’s inbetween?
               Didn’t this happen already?

The city knows us each by name.
It had compassion, but it’s running thin.
It has been weeping, but its eyes are drying.
It can’t reconcile the light and the dark any longer.

The city wishes it didn’t wear plasma
The city wishes it didn’t rain lead
The city wishes it didn’t know the taste of salt from tears
     The only red it wants to wear is Cardinal
     The only iron it wants to feel are the old trains just coming through
     The only water it wants to drink is the freshwater of the Confluence

The city hasn’t been sleeping well,
but has faint daydreams that sound
like ceasefire. The city is holding
vigil with the protesters for a boy, and all
the boys that came before, and all the boys
that came after, and it will not sleep
until that vigil is complete.

Little Known Facts About the Man of Steel
By Mikkel Snyder

Superman listens to Kanye
He guesses every superhero should have theme music
Hell: Superman wakes up to Kanye
Superman gets up to Kanye
Superman gets Kanye
Superman sits at the foot of his bed soaking in the sun and the same lyrics
“No one man should have all that power / the clock ticks /  I just count the hours.”
Superman has odd hours
Superman doesn’t always sleep well
Sleeping pills don’t really work well on Superman

Superman went to a state school
Superman didn’t apply for scholarships
Superman wanted to stay close to home

Superman took probability and biology
Put two and two together
And decided he didn’t want to think about his impossible anatomy
And became a journalism major
Superman understands the importance of record keeping and storytelling

Superman interviews well
Superman enjoys his job
Superman has trouble with global stories
So Superman writes about his city
New Metropolis Museum, New Metropolis Metro stop, New Metropolis mugging
Superman has trouble writing about crime in his city
Superman worries about the small crime in his city

Clark Kent does not worry about small crime
Clark Kent is a costume in a
High end neighborhood, with a neighborhood watch, with white privilege
Superman worries about white privilege

Superman thinks about if his parents would have loved him if he
was black, brown, yellow
was not-white
Could they accept an alien if he was not-white
Would Superman still be all-American if he was not-white
Superman does not like fences
Superman does not like handcuffs
Handcuffs don’t work well on Superman
Superman knows the need for control, but hates its abuse

Superman thinks about racial profiling
Superman worries about having mixed kids
Superman realizes that his mixed kids would be bulletproof
And he is wracked with guilt
Superman will one day have to explain that there is a difference between
Invincible and invulnerable to his kids
Superman will have to explain vulnerability to his kids
Thinks maybe it’ll be easier after their first heartbreak
Thinks Lois and him will have that talk together.
Think they’ll talk to them about making sure the world becomes a better place right after

Superman can not punch racism
Superman can not heat vision geopolitical tensions
Superman can not work 24/7 seven
But Superman does the best he can with all he’s got

Oh: Superman also listens to Jay-Z
Superman listens to Jay-Z while he gets ready to sleep
“So after this flow is over  you might owe me a favor / Yeah / When kingdom come, you ready?”
Superman mouths the last lyric every time.
“I will be.”

By Mikkel Snyder

I do not know the same type of hate that my friends know, only that it burns.

College-educated engineer knows enough statistics to know how the media
manipulates them, a matter of hazy generalizations and foggy lens.
That the truth is hidden behind an insidious ember slithering through poverty lines.

College-educated poet knows enough language to know how it is instrumental
to oppression, a matter of labels and silences. Smoother marginalized voices with
smoke disguised as socially-acceptable slurs. Mine says model. Theirs says thug.

A toxic smog has been entrenched in our throats, and in this shared suffocation,
we find  this common ground, this unreasonable expectation that if we do
not shine twice as bright,  we are not worth as much. But I am given the benefit
of the doubt while my friends have to fight tooth and nail just to be seen as human.

I can’t remember the last time I feared for my life walking down the street,
but I do remember the last few time my friends’ kind were gunned down,
choked, beaten, bruised, berated, belittled, or brutalized just in my city
in the last few months.  I do remember the names of executioners
and the enablers and the supposed elite who rhetoric and doublespeak
their way out of any blame, watching the smoke engulf the sky.

Let’s drop the pretense right here. I’m not going
to unclench my jaw and fist. I’m tired of seeing my friends so tired.
Teary eyes from all of the haze. I have seen the world watch my city burn
and I will fan the incense fashioned from it to send up our
prayers and demands because I can’t do nothing anymore.

Blood is On Everything In This Country
By Mikkel Snyder

Sidewalk graffiti spray painted with a gunshot and lead pipe
Every city has its artists sketching another outline of another body
Some get paid for this shit.
Some get jailed for this shit.
Some get portrait painted and their smile plastered on.
Ain’t that some shit?
These pictures in humors
The world watching how the sanguine
sticks and settles and rests and rusts

Watch the blood turn red to brown to black.
Funny how that works.

A statistic in a city, how many brushstrokes compared to the rising tally of deaths
A hidden feature of the city, the sidewalk takes in all the liquid
regardless of the source.
The concrete is more accepting the people who laid it.

Those running scared penned a map to the guide their kind through.
They saw a spirit pass over, not knowing
it is less sacrifice and more slaughter.
Their paths, condemnation lingering in the air,
sickly red aerosol.

This blood is on the air, broadcasted and radiowaved
Transmit through talking.
Savor the tantalizing aroma.
The public attention divided by the idea of tasting it
Gets gunk and grime forming in the corner of mouths
Foaming as it meets the water and sinks downward
Like one drop could poison the well
Nothing safe or clean here

At least not for those who need it most.
And there is blood on your hands now.
You can’t remember if you caused this or tried to stop it.
You couldn’t convinced yourself it mattered at this point.

Mikkel Snyder is a bi-racial author currently residing in St. Louis, Missouri. An ardent fan of experimental language, unconventional formatting and diverse voices, Mikkel has been previously published in The Legendary, decomP, and FreezeRay Poetry.