Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

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).