Black Hymn for my Past and Future Family 

              After Terrance Hayes



Grandpops stumbled, then sang but there never was a black male hysteria
Into hallowed graves where brittle bones huffed dust; Mississippi breathes,  
Shrugs a two-step to shake bedrock beneath, its necrophiliac lips blow life 
Into headstones. Puckered fingers burst first, followed by arms in some 
Voodoo shit, the way they slip from tombstone to shadow. Coal-colored, 
Spindly husks scouting shelter from the crowds gathering after sundown
Though the crowds couldn’t see, they linked arms and made blues from shadows
On the cold cobblestone steps where they hid, flames raged and set fire 
To the currents of the present, the scorched flesh of one corpse oozing blood 
Like the ski mask Grandpops wore in ’56 (it was necessary then – but the blood 
Was an unarmed casualty nonetheless). He belted twelve-bar blues to a buckshot 
Gospel, reenacting his history while the flames littered ashes on the liquor in his hands. 
There was hysteria when the crowd saw only his stumbling in the dark, oblivious to flames
Raging and shadows chanting along, unaware that there never was a black male hysteria



grandaddy hits on a cutething 


maroon clutch in hand, smooth feet parade
to You Go To My Head. Your body is electric
heat, wisps of energy whipping grown folks 
into submission; a redbone, slender waist 
a few states from home; a real Black 
Betty, no slave-funk but you know 
how to work me. Let’s shuffle to windy city 
nights, whirlwind past the clock’s hour hand. 
Red hair, you move like Josephine Baker, 
stirring something that shakes and wobbles 
in my knees. I’m a southern man, but hands locked 
together we can climb from Canton, Mississippi 
to stargaze on steel mountains in Chicago’s skyline. 
I say I make suits and you can’t deny it –
I’m smooth when I sail across the floor 
and seize your sharp mind, so let my dark skin 
bark and nip at your red tones, make a home
by my side with your light-skinned figure. You say 
you’re a nurse and I believe it, the way you surgically 
tatter my two-piece suit, you part my pounding
red veins to pluck the same heart strings that beat 
to your symphony. Lean close: the thud 
of my bold, Black soul is a song 
composed just for you.



Malcolm A. RobinsonMalcolm A. Robinson is a nonbinary writer currently pursuing a degree at FSU. Their work has previously appeared in Interim Magazine. They write out of their home in Orlando, FL, bedroom-bound and banjo-playing for the larger part of the pandemic.