On Negative Capability

By JOHN MURILLO

       Whitewalls   Mudflaps
Late night howling down
       a dark dirt road   Headlights
killed and so the world gone
       black but for the two blunts
lit   illuminating Jojo’s fake gold
       grin   One girl each screaming
from the backseat we raced
       the red moon   rawdogged
the stars   His mama’s car
       my daddy’s gun   Public Enemy
Number One   Seventeen and
       simple   we wannabe hard-
rocks threw rudeboy fingers
       and gang signs at the sky
Blinded by the hot smoke
       rising like the sirens
in the subwoofers   blinded
       by the crotchfunk rising
from all our eager selves   We
       mashed in perfect murk   a city
block’s length   at least
       toward God   toward God
knows what   when   or why
       neither Jojo nor I   not   our
two dates screaming   had a clue
       or even care   what the dark
ahead held   Come road
       come night   come blackness
and the cold   Come havoc
       come mayhem   Come down
God   and see us   Come
       bloodshot moon running
alongside the ride   as if
       to warn us away from   as if
to run us straight into   some
       jagged tooth and jackal throated
roadside ditch   When Jojo
       gunned the gas   we pushed into
that night like a nest of sleeping
       jaybirds shaken loose and
plunging   Between our screams
       a hush so heavy we could
almost hear what was waiting
       in the dark

 

John Murillo is an Afro-Chicano poet, professor, and playwright. He is the author of the poetry collections Up Jump the Boogie (2010) and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry, forthcoming from Four Way Books. He teaches at Wesleyan University.

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