Poem-a-Day sends a poem every day to your email. Managed by Poets.org, these daily poems are currently written and curated by Black poets. The service is free, donations accepted. Robert L. Fuller was a 24-year-old African American man who was found hanging from a tree in front of the City Hall in Palmdale, California, on June 10, 2020. His death was ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. City officials announced that they supported an independent investigation into his death.
AFTER ROBERT FULLER by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor
Will the new aunt Jemima have dreads?
Why did Susan Smith kill her children and blame a black man?
Would a black man hang himself from a tree with his backpack still on?
Is it justice or revenge we are seeking?
What does justice look like?
What else can I do to feel safe?
Several times a day I stab my fingertips to threads
Looking for something more than blood as a reminder of life
An angry rain whips the window
We lay quiet in bed
Invite Kimiko Hahn to serenade us with her new poems
When she’s done my lover says
Give me something something to munch on
I offer her my wrist.
Copyright © 2020 by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Cheryl Boyce-Taylor is the author of four poetry collections including, her most recent collection, Arrival (Triquarterly Books, 2017).
About This Poem
“As a community, we were struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic when George Floyd was killed. I thought nothing worse could happen, but sure enough, a few days later Robert Fuller was found hanging in Palmdale, California. I felt angry and numb all at the same time. As a type one diabetic, I test my blood sugar numerous times a day to make sure that my sugar is steady and that I am still feeling and functioning. On this day, I became so filled with hopelessness, the only thing I could do was serenade myself with Kimiko Hahn’s new poems to keep functioning. Out of her voice came such passion and inspiration, I was guided to make a poem for Robert Fuller and in memory of all the young black men and women that we have lost in the past few years.”