Skittles for Trayvon: A Diminishing Suite In Verse by Lillian Bertram

I.                 Creation Myth
                        —after Luci Tapahanso

In the beginning, there was a thrush
with no song. Sun was eating
Earth, Moon was devouring Sun,
Venus was in transit. The Volcano
People walked the young Earth

with footsteps of ash
laden with minerals. From their tracks
rose steam, ghosts, and rain. Swamps
crept up and grew sweet rods
that the Water People

cut and boiled for sweet, clear syrup.
The Water People were harvesters
and the Volcano People sowed in ash. Over time
the people changed, the other’s ways
passed out of knowledge. They gated in
trees and built houses of blocks.

It is said that one night, Singing Boy,
descended from the Volcano People,
was walking back from the market
with teas and candies. As he walked
he sang made-up songs to pass the steps
as he laid them:

diadem diadem,
rune O rune,
fast sleeping swamp,
a deep cocoon,
sun always wakes me
too-soon, too-soon

Lost in song, Singing Boy
walked past the place of his father’s home
onto the land of Troubled Man, a Water
person of old who grew troubled
by the strange singing floating in the dark.

With every step, rain steamed up
from Singing Boy’s path and showered
down upon him. Singing Boy pulled his cloak
around him for shelter. Troubled Man
took him for a Terrible Ghost.

Sun was eating Earth, Moon was devouring
Sun, Venus transited over the swamp,
a motion that could not be stopped. Troubled Man
stepped on Singing Boy’s heels, who yelled
in surprise. His yell so scared Troubled Man
who sunk his hands around the throat

of Singing Boy and squeezed out the song
with all his might. It is said that the thrush
caught Singing Boy’s last notes and to this day
you will hear the thrush singing for
the boy who died too-soon, too-soon, too-soon.



O winged diadem rune—
—a boyghost in the rain
you die too too too—

—the fated tune
of tropic’s eager cane—
—O winged diadem rune

for you—a cocoon
of leaden pain—
—O winged diadem rune—

you spook, you punk, you coon
—in green grass you lie in vain
you die too too too—

—you slain
under alabaster moon
            too-soon too-soon









Lillian-Yvonne Bertram’s first book, But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise, was selected by Claudia Rankine as the 2010 Benjamin Saltman Award winner and published by Red Hen Press in 2012 and is a 2013 poetry nominee for the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award for outstanding works of literature published by people of African descent. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Utah where she is an assistant managing editor of Quarterly West.