Most Wanted

for Rashawn Brazell


When a friend tells me he was attacked
with a half-empty cup of cola and faggot,
both thrown from a passing car’s window,

the room I sit in grows a little darker, colder.
The sun sets and somewhere a table of two
men are heckled by a table of seven at a St. Louis

IHOP. The waitress cuts her eyes and chimes
in with the crowd who wants the “faggots”
to “stay out of straight clubs.” And a poem

is written about it that I read late into the evening,
over again until I can see myself bludgeoned
and made ghost, something able to whisper into

a living ear, to enter a body and say something
with dignity, with the cadence similar to an activist’s
or cola splashing across a gay man’s shoes. I’ve read articles

asking why Brazell’s sexuality was ever mentioned at all,
as though his death is marred by a detail as simple
as his race, though easy enough to keep hidden

like a body tucked away in a news cast, unwritten
in the script of the Nightly News. It was on a gay blog
where I first heard about Brazell’s case, then never

heard of him again. CNN, New York Times, America’s
Most Wanted—too late by months, years, mere
hours—static from the TV, story so old  it turned

invisible right off the printer. Newspapers blow
from our hands to the ground. Already we have
forgotten our brother and turn our heads like a page.


Phillip B. Williams is a Chicago, Illinois native. He is the author of the chapbooks Bruised Gospels (Arts in Bloom Inc. 2011) and Burn (YesYes Books, 2013). A Cave Canem graduate, he has received work-study scholarships from Bread Loaf. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review Online, Callaloo, The Southern Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Sou’wester, West Branch, Blackbird and others. Phillip is currently a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at the Washington University in St. Louis and is working on his MFA in Creative Writing. He is the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Issue Two, June 3, 2013 | Matter

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