Make Believe

Tell me you are a lord
of jagged stones that were pillars.

Tell me I am wrong
about my skin, that it is no fortress.

What work of fiction can pacify
you who must sleepwalk the line
between what is real
and what is etch-a-sketch to survive?

Pretend the grass is deadly and press me deep
down in that forest of switchblades.

Pretend cement is lava hungry
to suck meat from your shins but I

am safe and solid. Can resist. Can’t be
burned down or swallowed up. Pretend
the water is poison
and I will pretend to be poison.

Jamaal May‘s first collection of poems, Hum, won the 2012 Beatrice Hawley Award and was published by Alice James Books. His poems have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, The Believer and Best American Poetry 2014, among many other places. With Tarfia Faizullah he co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series.