But for is always game.
A man can be murdered 
twice, but for science, 
his body a pool of blood 
in Baltimore & Tulsa,
except, it isn’t, his body actually 
slender against the sunlight just
outside a California prison—a crow
rests on a fence near his car.
Visiting hours long done, 
(for man not crow, 
one of a murderous many 
that flies above this barbed wire)
& the cigarette he smokes 
is illegal, here, & but for 
the magnetic pull tragedy 
has on black women he wouldn’t be 
here, right now, contemplating 
the crimson colored man leaping
into the darkness on his Nikes. 
He still says Air Jordans,
because air is important,
adjective swearing to black America’s
aim, if not ability, to soar, 
a way to outrun statistics
& the lead in the water. 
Alas, metaphysics says 
you are only you & no one 
else, & a black poet says black
love is not one or one thousand 
things, & it all may be true, 
but for the fact that the man swears 
the crow looks at him dead 
as if he is already so, 
as if while standing there he 
has been murdered 
by his brother, murdered 
by a cop, & bodied 
by a prison sentence as flames
from a Newport’s burning ash, 
illuminate his corpse.