Poetry from Damion Hamilton



I was at Starbucks

and they came for me

they hadn’t been for me in a while

but they came for me

I was just sitting in my car looking

at my phone, harming no one

heard a tap at my window, businesslike,

police, I figure it would be something


“step out of the car.”

“someone said you followed them from home.”


“they said that you look at porn on your cell phone?”

“what? I would never look at porn at Starbucks.”

“it sounds like he doesn’t believe what he is saying.

he seems suspicious to me and i am suspicious to him

the flashing lights come in, and they light up the night

three more police cars. I feel like El Chapo.

I don’t have a criminal record.

at 41 i thought i was past this.

being treated like a criminal.

but i feel like 25 again, not having my shit together.

It seems like they are being friendly with me

but they hate me, “sit on the curb!”

they would say that they are just doing their jobs

always doing their jobs

I take everything out of my pockets like i am told,

but that is not good enough.

he has too take everything out of my pockets

and sits on the car trunk.

this shit is so embarrassing.

I feel people looking at me, I don’t look up.

I try to smile, it is difficult though.

they are dissecting me,

they have been watching me for months.

I have been minding my business, and been

so quiet, just working on my laptop, reading books,

and listening to podcasts.

the boys need to remind me I am a fuck up, and black,

not whatever i think I am

they tear the car apart looking for

for heroin

looking for heroin

the do their best to find that

but they don’t find it

I don’t have it, and never had it

I used to hang out in bars.

and this is one of the reasons I stopped

I figured i would be safe at Starbucks

not fucking with anyone.

I thought the employees were my friends,

some of them, but they are with the police too.

these people act like they don’t know me,

act like we have never talked or joked with one

another. I feel betrayed betrayed betrayed

this is Kafkaesque

who set me up? and why?

betrayed betrayed betrayed


Insult Me

and he bought me drinks and played video games at bar, we

were bar buddies, not too many people liked him. And we were

both outsiders at the bar. I remember him saying, “you know my job

is hiring Damion, we could always use another janitor.” As if that would

be the only thing i would be qualified to be. I thought it was funny and

interesting if he intended it to be an insult. And deep down it was. Something

was going on in his life to insult me. And even though he worked for Boeing and

made a shit load of money he was not happy. UN happier than the shipping clerk

he wanted to insult, interestingly enough



The Clerk is An Angel

I got to the grocery store and was impatient,

line building behind me, Sunday night and cart full of groceries,

no bagger, he went home, meaning the cashier would have to bag the groceries

too, which will slow up the line.

the line didn’t have any movement, as still as the sky

this made me uncomfortable as it made others uncomfortable,

but people started chatting with each other, and I just picked up

a can of beans in my grocery cart and read the ingredients

I felt as uncomfortable as a traffic jam, almost unbearable to me

and the clerk’s voice was so calm, with no hint of frustration, or anger, or impatience,

and I haven’t seen anything like that in a while, as he asked, “how I was feeling?”

I kinda snapped when i said, “just wish you had a bagger.”

with impatience and anger i was trying to temper, yet couldn’t quite do this.

I put the card in the machine, it holds and releases,

he gives me a receipt of the stuff I had bought,

his face is still so calm, I admire that

“have a good night I say.”

realizing my foolishness





I took a benadryl

and was knocked out for hours

in sleep

this sleep, dreamless at times

when I woke up, I thought it was

eight in the morning,

it was one in the afternoon,

this Memorial day holiday


I did nothing except sleep mostly

no plans

no trips

no yoga

no exercise

or TV

it felt good to me,

not to notice what time it is

except it was my time for a while

and the world dissolved for me

into blue smoke

for awhile