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Trace DePass


                  &, abandoned, ‘boy’ oscillated son
 unmoved, erected, befuddled, he stood, a candle
 alone, outside of love & time, striking darks which stood
 up, wicked, all night. his wick unlit until each moon
 placed light. his dark a smoke made up
                 of wax, martyr, mortar. his Mary a mosaic
 who mothers the wind, alone, already, unready
                 caught in teeth her long night’s. & if a makeshift altar
 on which its wax stand be plated
 in rose gold or rusted silver,
‘he’ itself still held no value.
                 the anthropomorphized ‘he’ ‘he’ say ‘he’ be.
 say ‘he’             never felt a warm man.
& never. not even after this elegy 
 he says. never once. just                   displaced
 for all his seconds,
 second. blamed
 by his luck                                           for his place in it; his light
                                                               bedazzled bodies
 at the endless memorial.
this cannot be life nor light nor
 should we name it love,
                 he says, all this stark binary of quark & absence
 that decor the present day - nevermind
 this vast vast and undying vast.
 just grant me, voyeur gods drunk of free will, the winning
 torch,         crown me for a few seconds with its powerful
 smoke, i need its black           heir in me reigned
                         by the quantum leaps in me,
 the freedom of unknowing if whoever i be
       will be, at least some parts, conserved                 by a law for once,
             ‘he’ aflame until renamed; prettied founding new claim,
 braving shame, all the gust of its rapture now braves him;
 now twenty sheer autumns of hunger for the living
 body ‘he’ be - might, just now, be
 coronated to free incarnate
 remarkable, split, scissored of mother to beauty,
 anew, inside the wax. flesh unburdened by vessel
                     might coax not blood but,
 from it, lilacs named duality or dust to dust,
 or Crispus Attucks tucked beneath bullets berating
 inside Tamir Rice, unsheathing sheets of tiny pale
 flag until here now. debunked history
 embalmed each ‘boy’, each pronoun pronounced dead
 from some old made-god’s curious
 war. all for a forced-here answer.
 candles at the vigil, before the wake, cogitate
     whose is ‘he’ itself?
                      & now that the Union has won
                    the war & Crispus is no longer named
 property, ornament, a Christmas tree braving hell
                    for two Winters, would “he” be becoming
 for its first
                    time since creation?

                   umpteenth & abandoned. ‘boy’, yes, would be
                    becoming some stone but for once,
                    more human posthumous, scorched deathless as a moth
 glory calls                    - in stone wherein,  inside typos here, you
 misspelled rise. & wrote rest instead, in peace. lord knows why
 we spoke                             of peace inside singed bodies but
                                               now a mossy knoll
                                               with bodies in it
                                               knows better...

you know what they should
 have chiseled instead? 
                                                                the fellow
                                                                candle at the wake
                                                                said,   if you love them,
                                               if you’re proud of them,
                                               if you believe them,
                                               tell them, in a stone.
 tonight. before certain vigils, you know,




Trace Howard DePass is the author of Self-portrait as the space between us (PANK Books 2018) and editor of Scholastic’s Best Teen Writing of 2017. He served as the 2016 Teen Poet Laureate for the Borough of Queens. His work has been featured on BET Next Level, Billboard, Blavity, NPR’s The Takeaway, and also resides in literary homes: Anomalous Press (fka Drunken Boat), Entropy Magazine, Split This Rock!, The Other Side of Violet, Best Teen Writing of 2015, & the East Coast Voices Anthology. As he navigates 2018, through perserverating language, Trace aims to blur the lines between the narrative arc and what is percussive.


See full list of 2018 Emerging Poets Fellows