Peter Grandbois

Don’t tell me I’m dead

Don’t remove me from myself
or tell me to cut my hair
or let it fall to the ground after
don’t pull me from this panicked parenthesis
or tell me to put on sunscreen
or to watch my skin blister and burn
don’t push me from another mouth
or tell me to sleep beneath a burned out moon
or set out through wide-open plains
I know my lines are supposed to sit silent
and also be pleasing to the ear
and that poetry should count its syllables
the way Hollywood counts women over forty

But here’s the thing—I looked into the eyes
of the dying BLM protestor last night
and I bought everything I need to keep
the economy going, and I give every day
to the great god Apple, and I rode the drone
straight into the homes of children in the desert
and this is no island, and there is no way
for this poem to end except in death
and nothing is so low as to be nothing
and of course the end brings us back
to the beginning where I am waking
and we are waking, my brothers and
sisters are waking, and the death
I’m talking of is not the one you think

Peter Grandbois is the author of twelve books, the most recent of which is Everything Has Become Birds (Brighthorse, 2020). His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in over one hundred journals. His plays have been nominated for several New York Innovative Theatre Awards and have been performed in St. Louis, Columbus, Los Angeles, and New York. He is poetry editor at Boulevard magazine and teaches at Denison University in Ohio. You can find him at



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