Danez Smith


on the phone app that tells me how far I am from other men’s mouths

headless horsehung horsemen gallop to my gate
dressed in pictures stolen off Google


men of all different shades mark their doors in blood
saying No Fats, No Fems, No Blacks, Sorry, Just A Preference :)


I am offered eight mouths, three ass, & four dicks before I am given
a name. I offer my body to the boys with pictures with eyes.


the three men who say they weigh more than 250 pounds
fill their profiles with pictures of landscapes & sunsets
write lovely sonnets about their lonely & good tongues

men with abs between their abs write ask or probably not interested in you

the boy down the street won’t stop messaging me & I keep not responding
I thought about blocking him, but I don’t want him to think I am dead


a man says sup, I say chillin, you? he says word, so we fuckin or what?
I never found out what or what was


ThEre Is ThIs OnE gUy WhO sPeLlS EvErYtHiNg LiKe ThIs


everyone who is on the app says they hate the app but no one stops


I sit on the BART, eyeing the men on the train, begging myself
to talk to them now, but I think I can find their torsos later.


I sit at home, complaining to my friends about how I want a man
but I am so scared to talk to men, so scared of what they could do to me.


I sit on the face of a man that I just met


he whispers his name into my second mouth


& I sing a song about being alone


& even the black guy’s profile reads ‘sorry, no black guys’

You wake up every morning, look in the mirror & see a man you refuse to love. Imagine the tulip, on seeing a garden full of tulips, sheds it’s petals in disgust, prays some bee will bring it’s pollen to the rose bush. Imagine a shadow longing for a room with light in every direction. Someone made an nigger joke out of our names, we were never supposed to laugh or tell it ourselves. Oh, small boy sleeping near the Clorox, dreaming of soap suds & milk, if no one has told you, you are beautiful & lovable & black & enough & so – my precious, only brother – am I.


poem where I be a doe & you, by effect, are a wolf

lay me down on eye-white snow

my slow brooding bed of robin wings

my body slit & smearing everywhere.

I will not name this new opening a wound.

here, there is no pain I didn’t beg for.

I heard the howl, didn’t dare run.

stood waiting for the sweet blades

of jaw & claw. you found me

wasted no time making a myth

of my thigh, my flesh turned to wind

the earth under me wet with my life.

I pray this is what they mean by always

that heaven is a persistent mouth.

Baby, I want you forever this way:

fangs covered in me, moon dyed red

bouncing off front teeth, my body

only certain how to twitch, your belly

round with my joy.


Danez Smith is the recipient of a 2014 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. He is also the recipient of fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, & VONA. Danez is the author of [insert] boy (forthcoming, YesYes Books). His writing has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, & elsewhere. Danez is a founding member of the multi-genre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. In 2014, he was the Festival Director for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam. He was born in St. Paul, MN.