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Two Poems by Luther Hughes | Word Riot

April 15, 2015      

Two Poems by Luther Hughes

Listen to a reading of “clay” by Luther Hughes.


i am remembering
the adam’s apple. how he is a sliver

of wood carved in the skin.
in bed my palm molds him into a harp,

him, humming after each strum.
on the train he is metal, tautly

chained to the throat.
sometimes he is dull. he says,

it makes him feel human,
like when he eats a banana:

how he opens, tip filling,
rising between swallows.

was he nauseous on slave ships?
did he cringe as iron grit him

into a drip of salt,
peeling like winter leaves?

it is almost impossible
to tell his color when the moon

removes him, but he is brown –
a hershey’s kiss melting along the neck.

Listen to a reading of “writing a eulogy” by Luther Hughes.

writing a eulogy

if a black body could be folded into fourths
would you call him a eulogy? a flip of the
page and you might find him there –
stationary – covered in another man’s
word. a father? your father?

think of fathers the way pages think
of creases. each bone uncomfortable with
a reason. the skin, made to wrinkle for
you to read. imagine seeing your father’s
picture – hung for eyes.

his body beneath wood or metal –
encased, but proper. he will be thrown
away – balled-bone and submissive.
but you front a stale face.
you tell your son not to worry. words
are easily folded if you forget them
long enough. and fathers are easily
forgotten if you want them to be.

remember the eulogy? where he is all
punctuation and body. the body, a family
of spaces and run-ons because you don’t
like stopping. you begin to fidget. your body
needs a period. you feel one coming –
the pain – the author’s writing your body’s
marrow. soon you too will need to be
folded at the spine. to be encased –
hung for the eyes of your son.

to be blkAbout the author:

Luther Hughes was born in Seattle, Washington, but currently lives in Chicago where he is pursuing his B.A. in poetry at Columbia College Chicago. Luther’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Chelsea Station Magazine, About Place Journal, Good Men Project, Toe Good Poetry, and other journals. He curates, “Shade,” a literary blog for queer writers of color. You can follow him on Twitter @lutherxhughes. He thinks you are beautiful.

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