Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith is the author of six poetry volumes, including the upcoming Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, which will be published in April, and Blood Dazzler, a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. Her work has been published in Poetry, the Paris Review, Tin House, TriQuarterly, and the 2011 editions of both Best American Poetry and Best American Essays. She is a professor at the City University of New York.

Get Up Seven Times, Fall Down Eight

On July 6, 2016, thirty-two-year-old Philando Castile was pulled over by police in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, in a car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter. After being asked for his license and proof of insurance, Castile told the officer that he had a firearm. He was told, “Don’t pull it out,” and even though he insisted that he would not, Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot him seven times. The shooting and Castile’s death were live-streamed on Facebook by Diamond Reynolds.


The Road Runner is a beeping charmer, blue-feather pompadoured,
hooked to his lusty habit of turning the Coyote into blooming
asterisk and spectacular dust. It’s believed that he has no soul.

The Coyote, bewildered and bulge-eyed, dies and dies and dies
in a bloodless loop. His bones, ludicrously close to the sky,
lance his nappy pelt and leave him deflated, as flat as the earth