Shane McCrae

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“We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”

—Donald Trump


America the lights along the highway

At night the streetlights look       just like the eyelets

At the edge of the tarp behind which Kim Jong Un

Himself detains the sun America

From you I drive beneath them seeking you


And in what other country     America

Could I within the country seek the country

And find it nowhere      but the citizens are

Told in the citizens the country fails

America I am becoming white


In the white light      in flashes      no one knows

And still for every inch my afro grows

I wait a minute longer at the Wal-

mart deli but I find     the real you there

Where what you see     will not be what you eat


Fireflies Dying

Between the outside of      and the inside of

My house between      at the thinnest and the thickest

Point both the point at which     the two are con-

centrated      at the window downstairs where

The window unit is     next both to the din-

ing table and the rest of the world      there      some-

where I can’t see but there I see black corps-

es clinging to the curtain     above the pas-

sage what must be a passage through     the fire-

flies crawl I think they couldn’t pass through flying


They pass through      to a world I can’t imag-

ine from a world I can’t imagine to

The world I make      from the world I dominate

By knowing it     is separate from myself


They are the mind of the outside      world they pass through

Thinking    and die in the idea they reach

In the morning in the dark the fireflies look

On their backs       on the floor     like and at first

I think they are       clocks blinking to be set

I know     in the outside world they blink to find

Mates     and in the outside world the intervals be-

tween blinks     are longer and the blinks themselves

Are faster they are answering and waiting

For answers      in the outside world from fire-

flies on the ground I know what’s happening


But I have looked and never seen       the fire-

flies on the ground     except I’ve seen the dying

Fireflies from the air on the floor     blinking like

Machines awaiting input     and at first

I think they are        both stuck and loose in time



Shane McCrae’s most recent books are In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press, 2017) and The Animal Too Big to Kill (Persea Books, 2015). He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, a fellowship from the NEA, and a Pushcart Prize, and he teaches at Columbia University.