Poem: Bullet (Lead + Alloy)


When my son asked me if you had a gun after listening to me tell strangers about my crimes and my time in jail, I want to lie I can’t reconcile that yesterday with what I know now about bullets. Maybe then what I knew. Adrian Matejka is doing what all good poets do here, surprising you with a reminder, even a simple reminder: “Here we are/again: too many Black women/& Black men in front of her.” he is a weapon used by the police, or more often, another Black hand. As Grandmaster Flash once said, It’s like a forest, sometimes I wonder how I survived sinking. Chosen by Reginald Dwayne Betts

by Adrian Matejka

Lead, copper in the core
& plenty of nickel skin
every year. Ten billion rounds
It is made every year in America.
Enough bullets to kill them all
the world every year
Bullet hits three times
faster than we can hear
its concussion. Bullet
breaking the air with 2.182
mile input. Bullet
it’s a cruel reflection
for himself. bullet
a subtle allegory for a weapon-
happy nation and its companion
segregations. lead belly,
wrapped in grin
freedom change : a gun
almost more important
from what comes out of it.
A gun is always more
more important than people
in front of him. we are here
again: many Black women
& Black men in front of you.

Reginald Dwayne Bets He is a poet and lawyer. He created Freedom Reads, an initiative to curate microlibraries and place them in jails across the country. His latest poetry collection “Felon” explores the post-incarceration experience. His 2018 New York Times Magazine article about his journey from teen car theft to working lawyer won a National Magazine Award. Adrian Matejka He is a poet whose last book is “Someone Else Sold the World” (Penguin Books, 2021).


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