Professor Bennett's Poem Selected for Best American Poetry 2021

Joshua Bennett's poem "Benediction" was chosen by Tracy K. Smith for the anthology The Best American Poetry 2021.

The Department of English and Creative Writing congratulates Assistant Professor Joshua Bennett whose poem "Benediction" was chosen by Tracy K. Smith, guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2021, to be included in the anthology. The Best American Poetry 2021 will be published by Scribner in September 2021. 



by Joshua Bennett

God bless the lightning
bolt in my little
brother's hair.
God bless our neighborhood
barber, the patience it takes
to make a man
you've just met
beautiful. God bless
every beautiful thing
called monstrous
since the dawn
of a colonizer's time.
God bless the arms
of the mother
on the cross
-town bus, the sterling silver
cross at the crux
of her collar bone, its shine
barely visible beneath
her nightshade
navy, New York
Yankees hoodie.
God bless the baby boy
kept precious
in her embrace.
His wail turning
my entire row
into an opera house.
God bless the vulnerable
ones. How they call us
toward love & its infinite,
unthinkable costs.
God bless the floss.
The flash. The brash
& bare-knuckle brawl
of the South Bronx girls
that raised my mother
to grease knuckles, cut eyes,
get fly as any fugitive dream
on the lam,
on the run
from the Law
as any & all of us are
who dare to wake
& walk in this
skin & you
best believe
God blessed
this skin
The shimmer & slick
of it, the wherewithal
to bear the rage of sisters,
brothers, slain & still function
each morning, still
sit at a desk, send
an email, take an order,
dream a world, some heaven
big enough for black life
to flourish, to grow God
bless the no, my story
is not for sale
the no, this body
belongs to me & the earth
alone the see, the thing
about souls
is they by definition
cannot be owned God
bless the beloved flesh
our refusal calls
home God bless the unkillable
interior bless the uprising
bless the rebellion bless
the overflow God
bless everything that survives
the fire