Danez Smith
my deepest & most ashamed apologies to Assotto Saint

who i called Assanto in my previous collection

which was edited by several well-paid folks & the rat

babble fuck of a poem (“gay cancer”) also passed

thru the young hands of some young editors at a young journal

& even Jeff Shotts’ reading ass didn’t catch

your name double sainted in the middle cause it was

my Black job to know you & put you down right

i who found you in the library’s slow-came, ripped mirror

i who found you again when i found myself bloodbottomed

i whose duty was to give the little sissies & cousins who find

even minute use in my poems the key to the door to the bridge

to the island of your name, your names stranded & waving

from the vanished shore, all you looted from the backroom

by the hooved, perpetual sick t-cells marchin

toward low heavens, all you poets, writers, playwrights

dancers, singers, actors, painters, makers, drag queens

directors ever emerging from the bias dirt your genius

your promise your death your name what little i can do

i fucked up. i’m so sorry Assotto i did what they all do

i pronounced our names wrong i said we looked

like someone else i put your name in a book

& i got the check i name dropped & false flagged

in a single stunt i lied on you & there were white people around

i said i love you for the crowd i prayed at your out-of-print altar

whole time in the wrong god’s tongue, cancelled your angels

i try to conjure the dream where you tell me

chile, it’s alright so i can sleep my name

known & loud & cleared, no ghosts,

ancestor or stranger priding or aiding nor near

Found In Volume 51, No. 01
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  • danez smith
Danez Smith
About the Author

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of “Homie” (Graywolf Press, 2020), "Don’t Call Us Dead" (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and "[insert] boy" (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry.