Basie Allen
New Clippings from an Old Numerical Means

A new number for every time I don’t know what it means to be "black" A new number for every time I could’ve been anything else




Gelatin Silver. (i am)


carving a swan’s contour out of silence I jumped into the muted beak


and blur of William Klein throat-locks unlock


and I sing inside the softness


of chrysalis kingdoms





Tissue red. (i am)


a type of depression that patience would kill for




Soft Velvet yellow. (i am)


where I sit by the rolled down window of summer and watch pedestrian life


Spider by like streamers twinkling in the handlebared air




6 1/2.
Less Soft Velvet Yellow. (i am)


when winter comes back, again for her throne of shivers and pejorative shawls


distant warmth of August like the reflection of a smile


from the other side of a murky cesura




Obvious Violet. (i am)


poetry crumbs for my tired peoples


who know the barnyard rink of a dark’s cold


who wear sung loops above the hurtled-ash of their cheek bones


whose eyes— castled with sleep are cornered with the adhesive muck of dream knots


whose fingers are the AM excavators digging out sleep coal from eye-hole mines




Understated Pre-Brown. (i am)


enflamed kiss of vellum hide widened by skin blooms


I have pulled every last tooth and pin every splinter of celebration lost


I wrap them all in fossil gauze to prevent an unraveling of my names




Stable Green. (i am)


the other day a fluorescent string of subway lights swung across your eyes


leaving the impression of machete stained glitter wounds




crush pours and sliver mush dripped into the way


I’ve learned to say te quiero mi moreno




Time adjusted grey. (i am)


the clipped and elderly cornrows resting on the floor


of the black owned barber shop grey crawls of woven secrets


former maps knots of eye wince


and quilts of hand cups reminding me there’s nothing rotten


for the soul hunters to haunt for




Itchy Beige. (i am)


Where birds sing debris songs


Into new nets




Clear. (i am)


Who humble is and wind


no complaints despite having been


the janitor for all these years cleaning up and rearranging


the mess of dusk yes. in the same way


that evening sky has learned to clean its mouth of old clouds


I too have learned to rinse and spit


out the distractions from my days




13, 13.
Clear, Clear. (i am)


humble doubled the way trouble grows


the color of oppression wrap like the sprained Achilles of our culture


injured by the speed of all unnamable things clear, clear is the color of real danger


the closeness of unwanted absence hiding in the sun-sheath of day break


clear, clear is broken and the way hatred goes


clear, clear is the open apology to the bigot and blindfold