Saleem Hue Penny

(untroubled, if only for) Eight Days Diaphanous

   “Tree’s catching fire (he’ll be last to know)/ What a way to die.”
   –Francis Farewell Starlite

pop’s love, a push mower, (rockets from) his bottles flew free, light.
wild fire works: weedwacker, leaf blower, toolshed fuels the light.

wood stove yawns, (homework scattered) half-done, sipping tea, purling socks
knew back then, steady would stay these friends, when shadows threw the light.

i black, she white, (they ain’t like) the gray we glisten in
blood moon arise, heat lightning eyes, cirrus skins glide through the light.

forest preserve, four deep (at 6 feet), COVID masks, strapped for peace
rooftop view, paradise white, when it burns, new money do be light.

crayons on the back porch, we color mommy’s (black eyes,) sunshine
rednecks tailed Uncle Jasper then (tree crash) he soared, truly light.

pastry case, noir et blanc honeymoon suite, an eider duvet
licks, (dame blanche melting) drips, lace-lined dessous— ice blue, creamy light.

Friends (prayed), made a new enslaved (prey) in cells, Friends knew freedom sells:
King, Wallace, Woodfox locked tight, Angola windows rue the light.

twin chests heave, final heat, birth canal relay complete (breached
head to feet) PPE, yet they know it’s Hue, eyes oozing light.

Editor’s note: the poem is a ghazal with a 15 syllable line. If being viewed by phone you may need to use landscape view.

Saleem Hue Penny is a Black, neurologically and hearing impaired, ‘rural hip-hop blues’ artist, based in Chicago, with strong ties to Pisgah Forest, North Carolina, and deep roots in Monck’s Corner, South Carolina. His work seeks to reclaim the pastoral moments embedded in urban landscapes. He explores how young adults of color traverse wild spaces and come to define freedom, shelter, community, and solitude on their own terms. He utilizes electronic music, collage painting, and improvisational performance to punctuate his poetry. Find him at @huedotart and

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