Makeda Bilqis Literary Awards

Promoting Excellence in Poetry & Fiction

Carlos Andrés Gómez is an M.F.A. candidate in Creative Writing at Warren Wilson College. Winner of the 2015 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize nominee, his work has appeared in Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, Muzzle, Timeout New York, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Acentos Review, Me No Habla With Acento: Contemporary Latino Poetry (Rebel Satori Press, 2011), Airmail: Women of Letters (Viking Australia, 2015), CHORUS: A Literary Mixtape (MTV Books, 2012), and elsewhere. Carlos is the author of the coming-of-age memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood, released by Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. He appeared in HBO’s“Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry” and Spike Lee’s #1 movie “Inside Man”with Denzel Washington. He lives in New York City.
For more, please visitwww.CarlosLive.comor say hi to him on Twitter/Instagram: @CarlosAGLive

2015 Makeda Bilqis Literary Awards Winner   


Song for Mike Brown

By Carlos Andrés Gómez

Find a picture of an adolescent

mimicking what he thinks makes

him worth something. Brand

clumsy puberty as blood thirst.

Transform peace sign into gang sign.

And, suddenly, six shots at the base

of his skull, sprinting, with back

turned, is self-defense for a cop

armed like a mercenary. 

Transmute a hooded sweatshirt

from the college he was to attend

into a prison jumpsuit, into a fist,

a weapon aimed at your face.

How can a country built from

a single document drafted

to protect white, land-owning

men claim to humanize all

of its citizens? (Half of which

were considered less than

cattle this morning.) The woman

in South Carolina has no response

when I ask her why the killing

of three dogs made her protest,

write letters, boycott, while

the murder of a defenseless black

child inspired not a single word

from her lips. Loud music, blocking

the middle of a residential street,

a wallet, in a quivering, outstretched

palm, a back sprinting away in fear,

a woman banging on a door, a boy

walking, lost in thought, a stutter,

a whistle he learned to cope with

his stammer, a toy rifle in a Walmart,

when the implication of blackness

is always absolution from murder.

I met my nephew when he was

28 days old. He giggled a crown

of sonnets as I held him, sweat  

through his onesie, offered me

the blooming tenderness from

his eyes as he slumbered into dream,

and I said a silent prayer for

the imagined crimes his world

was busy inventing, to condemn

him for being born black

and having the courage to enter

a room, full-throated, screaming:

I am here. I am alive. Hear me.

All of you need the anthem

of my precious life.