Six Poems by Frank X Walker

Sleight of Hand

Donald Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman,
released to home confinement for the rest of his sentence
amid concerns that he could contract the coronavirus.

—NBC News

Used to be a simple planting of 8.5 ozs
or the “discovery” of 5 plants in KY
turned a trumped-up possession 
into trafficking, multiplied by X 
if within 1000 yards of a school, church 
or park, though everywhere in the hood 
is across the street from a house of worship,
and within ten football fields of a school,
though rarely anywhere near a park.

Black lives don’t seem to matter when it comes
to stops and searches, arrests, prosecutions 
and pleas, trials, and life without parole 

Even before body cameras, that often forget
to turn themselves on when officers
are already titillated over a falling
or somehow swinging black body

fat cats and wrong-doers with friends
in high places were being released 
to home imprisonment 
in mansions and condominiums 
while Bubba and Tyrell serve out everyday
of their 5-10 years for felony possession
of a substance that is legal in 11 states.

The Walking Dead

Week one,
you heard it was a hoax.

Week two,
they took your venti latte 
with extra something or other. 

Week three, 
you left the room 
without a phone 
in your hand
—and survived. 

Silver Linings

remembering you actually like 
your family, love your partner
and being outdoors barefooted 

finishing the unread stack of books, 
cooking without using a microwave, 
and writing letters longhand

noticing that watching, listening, 
or playing in the rain feels 
the exact opposite as driving in it

meeting the old you, the cloud-watching
wannabe gardener, before time clocks
and hurry, bills and worry made you 

a prisoner, took your life hostage, 
replaced it with cable, 
a big screen, and a remote control

Fake News?

Conservative Court 
Justices Vote Remotely 
To Deny Wisconsonites
Right To Vote Remotely

Evangelicals Attending 
White House Easter Egg 
Hunt Witness Resurrection 
of White Chocolate Jesus

According to Fox News, one 
of these headlines is not true.


after Amiri Baraka

Who already sick and tired 
of the planned new normal? 
Who want change, now? 
Who demand justice?
Who know they lives matter?
Who die the most 
at the hands of cops?

Who speak riot?
Who “loot” and be made to look 
less righteous?
Who set police cars on fire? 
Who grieve with bricks 
and water bottles and fire?
Who eat pepper spray, 
flash bangs, and tear gas?
Who say fuck the police
and they curfew?
Who burn the Target 
and the precinct down?
Who ready to be 
the next hashtag?

Like Moby-Dick, but Bigger

If the Donald is indeed
this young century’s Ahab
singularly focused 
on his great white self,

let people, united
be the shining sea
rising up to drown him out,

let Corona be the harpoon
that finally drags his 
blubbery superego 
to the surface,

let his willingness 
to let so many die
for corporate profits
wash him overboard 
in November.

Frank X Walker is a native of Danville, Kentucky. A Kentucky Poet Laureate, he teaches writing and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. A co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets, he is a Cave Canem Fellow and founding editor of pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. Frank has several collections of poetry including, Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, winner of the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Poetry; and Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award. Most recently, Frank was awarded the 2020 Judy Gaines Young Book Award for his collection, Last Will, Last Testament. Frank coined the term Affrilachia, and has dedicated his work to forging new perceptions of Appalachia. 

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