Afterhex 1

One’s opportunities to be unhappy are

Dynamic, ever-expanding, a Ford Mustang chasing

The sun as it sprints panicked to the western limit

Which was the morning you first didn’t think of the riot

And for weeks afterward,    and following what once

Had seemed, and anybody    would have said so, seemed to

Have been a sequence of events in time, and only

To the intelligentsia, then hidden, now

They scurry from one nimbus to another down

The block until they disappear in darkness, then

They reappear in light, then disappear again

In darkness,     and then finally beneath the next

Streetlight they’re gone,    they disappear in light, to whom

What seemed to you a sequence was a sphere of time

Expanding in a space with limits, and with walls at

Its limits, in which objects are a tax the space pays

To what authority? The sphere of the riot, for

What seemed like weeks, but it was only minutes, the

Sphere was conveyed, a polished     gem, from hand to hand

One representative to the next, one party to

The other, in the weeks of their competitive

Expressions of concern, in the minutes of those weeks

Rolling, a golden coin across scarred knuckles, a

Magician or a criminal, but both, the coin

A sphere in the space between two hands, a coin in the hand

Eventually, like bullets in America

The riot passes through our heads and we forget

The riot, everything, what once seemed strange to you

Becomes your heart, American, your heart’s-blood strange

To you, hidden in you, the truest part of you

Unknowable, a minotaur of the hidden god

Who is not you, the god, not even of your own heart

Shane McCrae’s most recent books are Sometimes I Never Suffered, shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, and The Gilded Auction Block, both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Later this year, the Cleveland State University Poetry Center will release an expanded edition of his first book, Mule, with an introduction by Victoria Chang. McCrae has received a Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.