Play or An Elegy for Tamir Rice

Lauren K. Alleyne

I watched the video
            and wished I hadn’t
and knew I had to
witness the boy
            being a boy before
he becomes a corpse
and the moments
            —brief as breath—
between  his playing
killer and dying,
            between his shooting
the air and collapsing
(is that word for it,
            the startled descent
of a child’s bulleted body?).
I want to say wait
            but in the distance
between the urge
and the utterance
            between lung and lip
(one-a-thousand; two-a-thousand)
he is gone. I play
            the video again and again
trying to hit stop
in time to keep him
            alive. I make a black boy 
Lazarus of him, minus 

the miracle: the bullet, 
            faster than fingers or hope, 
wins every time.

Lauren K. Alleyne hails from the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Her fiction, poetry and non-fiction have been widely published in journals and anthologies, including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Ms. Muse, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Interviewing the Caribbean, Crab Orchard Review, among many others. She is author of Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press, 2014) and Honeyfish (New Issues (US) & Peepal Tree (UK), 2019). Her work has been awarded many honors, most recently, the Phillip Freund Alumni Prize for Excellence in Publishing from Cornell University (2017), the Green Rose Prize from New Issues Press (2017), the Split This Rock Poetry Prize (2016), the Picador Guest Professorship in Literature at the University of Leipzig, Germany (2015), and an Iowa Arts Council Fellowship (2014). In 2015, the journal IthacaLit named its annual prize the Lauren K. Alleyne/Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize. Alleyne currently resides in Virginia, USA, where she is an Associate Professor of English at James Madison University, Assistant Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and Editor-in-Chief of The Fight & The Fiddle.