Poem for Amadou Diallo
has taught us much about fame and its
inevitable tomorrow. —Lucille Clifton
This is your fifteen minutes
of fame. So violently sudden, it caught you
peering at the contents of your life
from outside your Bronx apartment window.
How quickly the vestibule reflects
fame’s pop and flare and flash;
echoes with its din—the rapid-fire clap
unexpected as applause.
Your body can’t help its poses as four nightriders fire like paparazzi,
twisting you with each shot. You are almost dancing—
reaching for what you don’t know about America and identity—
your spine shifted, slips. How swiftly you fall. It is impossible to stand.
Your own blood fills your chest until you are nothing
but poems and petals left on Wheeler Street
and your mother’s courtroom silence
as she learns to hold her heart.
“Poem for Amadou Diallo” appeared in The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (University of Georgia Press, 2007).