Black Conversation

from the noose of the poem
the dead woman points off page
follow her finger to the blue eyes
of the poet
who caps and uncaps
a black fountain pen.

he looks at her finger, wipes his eyes,
scrolls down, not I.

he is sympathetic.

although the purple tongue,
tied shut in its duchess, has a lot it could
say, it wouldn’t be saying anything
that hasn’t been said before.

her arm maintains indication.

the poet unscrews his pen, marks
the sky—azure, the river—tempestuous,
the bystanders, the good-ole-days,
the rape, the neck, the feet (going
nowhere), the bystanders, the show
not tell.

plus ça change…

turn of the century postcard,
the body camera, the hoodie, the bystanders,
the wife beside you, the stanza,
the assonance, the brains-
patterned dashboard, the bystanders,
the line

his montblanc outlines
her obsidian necklace in mangled AAVE.
he screws his pen back together
the pushcart is coming.

stephanie roberts is the author of the poetry collection rushes from the river disappointment (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020). A widely published Quebec-based poet, she has work featured in Poetry Magazine, the League of Canadian Poets, The BreakBeat Poets: LatiNEXT (Haymarket Books, 2020), and elsewhere. She won first prize for Black Mountain Press’s The Sixty-Four: Best Poets of 2018.