(finalist for the 2022 Boston Review Annual Poetry Contest)

I know, I said I was done
imagining false futures

but it’s a beautiful day today
and I have to wonder

how you’d have spent it,
though maybe you’d have done nothing at all

except turn eighteen
because maybe you weren’t big

on birthdays. I’m not either,
though I guess there is something

about birthdays for black boys
something joyous to be taken from them

for all that they defy. I’m not sure anymore
how far joy gets us

but happy birthday all the same,
Tamir. What’s left to hope

I will hope for you.
What I can’t defy I will destroy.