Brooklyn April 2020

even now the old men sit
at their corner on the stoop
the three of them on the stairs
one on top of the other
recycled masks hanging
from their faces to appease
whoever loved them
and begged them not to go out
into the street   they sit together
as they always do listening
to the sirens wail
rubbing the bald spots
widening on their skulls
then they talk of the old days
and all the times they didn’t die
online a meme says
black people think quarantine means
only hang out with people you know
you see the numbers
and all the pictures of the dead
looking like long-lost aunties and cousins
we are dying they say
faster than others
you can list all of the reasons for this
systemic and ancient as a noose
we are poorer sicker
and don’t have health care
we are essential
and expendable
you think of the black men
kicked out of walmart for wearing
surgical masks
you think of the black men
at the corner drinking
from a brown paper bag
and blowing smoke in the air
from their cigarettes
you wish things were this simple —
that we love each other too much
and are dying for it