American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin

By Terrance Hayes

Seven of the ten things I love in the face
Of James Baldwin concern the spiritual
Elasticity of his expressions. The sashay
Between left & right eyebrow, for example.
The crease between his eyes like a tuning
Fork or furrow, like a riverbed branching
Into tributaries like lines of rapturous sentences
Searching for a period. The dimple in his chin
Narrows & expands like a pupil. Most of all,
I love all of his eyes. And those wrinkles
The feel & color of wet driftwood in the mud
Around those eyes. Mud is made of
Simple rain & earth, the same baptismal
Spills & hills of dirt James Baldwin is made of.

Terrance Hayes “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin” from American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. Copyright © 2018 by Terrance Hayes. Reprinted with the permission of Penguin Books.