Scoundrel Time

Some Heavens Are All Silence

Listen to my last breath      you’ll hear each breath I’ve drawn

Since my voice changed and the sound got

Deeper incline your head      pull down      a shroud from the heaven white

Folks get peace      privacy from pull one down


To cover us I know you got      a ladder or a string

A ladder in your pocket straight

And tall      a white string made of white strings twisted tight

Together and it hangs


Above your head      you pull and

A ladder rolls      down from that heaven

White folks pull grave by grave to Earth


I know y’all got a heaven      just for y’all and

A God who don’t speak      or don’t make y’all listen      listen

Incline your head      that is the voice of God      that breath



Shane McCrae’s most recent books are The Gilded Auction Block (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019) and Sometimes I Never Suffered (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020). He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.






Image By: