When Natalie Diaz Said, ‘I Will Swing My Lasso of Headlights’

Chris L. Butler

Inspired by Natalie Diaz’s poem “If I Should Come Upon Your House Lonely in the West Texas Desert”

I thought about America’s astigmatized optics.
& how we could have solved it all sooner.
But we didn’t wanna buy new frames.

Opposing traffic lights peacocked on I-45 South.
It blinded everyone’s vision. This was fall 2017,

a time when my broken glasses matched
the view of so many. I watched people vote

an earthquake into office. A brutal intention.
It steered us all off course. Each of our cars
smashed into the iron bar. It was a dark November.

Don’t you remember? We all got bent all up
like licorice. The nation painted the guardrail Black,

with oil & Cadillac engine fluid. Black like our skin.
Red blood splattered Basquiat patterns across the metal.

Chris L. Butler is a Black American and Dutch poet-essayist from Philadelphia living in Canada. He is the author of two chapbooks, most recently Sacrilegious (Fahmidan Publishing & Co, 2021). In 2021 he won the Kurt Brown Fellowship for Diverse Voices at the Solstice MFA Program in Massachusetts. His work can be read in Culture Days Canada, APIARY Mag, Afros in Tha City, The Canadian Journal of Poetry & Contemporary Writing, HAD, Trampset, Flypaper Lit, Perhappened Mag, and more.

© Variant Literature Inc 2021