Poem: Bullet (Lead + Alloy)

When my son asks, Did you’ve got a gun, after listening to me inform strangers of my crimes and time in jail, I need to lie. Unable to reconcile these yesterdays with what I do know now about bullets. Maybe what I knew then. Adrian Matejka does right here what all good poets do, startles you with a reminder, even a easy one: “Here we are/again: so many Black women/& Black men in front of it.” The it being a gun, whether or not wielded by the police, or as is extra typically the case, one other Black hand. As Grandmaster Flash as soon as stated, It’s like a jungle generally it makes me surprise how I hold from going beneath. Selected by Reginald Dwayne Betts

Credit…Illustration by R. O. Blechman

Bullet (Lead + Alloy)

By Adrian Matejka

Lead within the stomach, copper
& nickel pores and skin in abundance
every year. Ten billion bullets
made in America every year.
Enough bullets to kill all
of the earth every year.
The bullet hits thrice
sooner than we are able to hear
its concussion. The bullet
breaks the air with its 2,182
mph admission. The bullet
is a grim onomatopoeia
for itself. The bullet is
a slim allegory for a gun-
glad nation & its attendant
segregations. Lead stomach,
wrapped within the grinning
freedom modification: a gun
is sort of extra necessary
than what comes out of it.
A gun is all the time extra
necessary than the individuals
in entrance of it. Here we’re
once more: so many Black girls
& Black males in entrance of it.

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and lawyer. He created Freedom Reads, an initiative to curate microlibraries and set up them in prisons throughout the nation. His newest assortment of poetry, ‘‘Felon,’’ explores the post-incarceration expertise. His 2018 article in The New York Times Magazine about his journey from teenage carjacker to working lawyer received a National Magazine Award. Adrian Matejka is a poet whose newest e book is ‘‘Somebody Else Sold the World’’ (Penguin Books, 2021).