By Darnell "DeeSoul" Carson


The Black Boy’s greatest magic trick has always been survival.
We have always known Death like a distant relative,
Have always known that this inhale, exhale,
Of ours is the strongest form of rebellion.

It is hard not to be a ghost in a body
That you have never felt alive in.
Even now I’m unsure what keeps me
Tethered to this world, the power

Of my mother’s prayers or the fear
Of leaving her behind. She always tells me
To watch my back out there. She refuses
To ever use the word goodbye

Because she wants God to know
She’ll kill him if I don’t make it
Back to her breathing. I ask what
If tomorrow isn’t in God’s will for me.

What the fuck does God know
about a will
, she says. Thinks he
Has enough angels already guarding
His gates. This greedy green earth of his

Knows the taste of us too well.
I think that maybe vigilance is a virtue.
How else could I believe that all black boys go to heaven,
If not that they can always see the kingdom coming.

I do not tell her there is already a gravestone
With my hashtag on it. Instead, I promise
That I will be home before the streetlights
Can catch me. She is already threatening God as I leave


A Black queer poet, performer, and educator from San Diego, CA, Darnell “DeeSoul” Carson is co-director of the award-winning Stanford Spoken Word Collective, and editorial assistant at The Adroit Journal. A two-time CUPSI finalist, his work has been featured or is forthcoming on Write About Now Poetry and Button Poetry and in The Adroit Journal, The Unified Anthology, The Oakland Arts Review, and elsewhere. Most recently, he has released his chapbook Running From Streetlights (2020), an examination of Blackness and being in America. Carson is currently pursuing a degree in Cultural/Social Psychology with a minor in Creative Writing at Stanford University. You can read more about his work at and find him online on Instagram or Twitter @deesoulpoetry.