Truman Scholar and First Wave alumnus Deshawn McKinney ’17 is a writer and hip-hop artist from Milwaukee. He also helps support the UW as a director of development at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. His creative work pulls from a wide spectrum of historical reference and focuses on exploring the multitudes of existence. Read McKinney’s take on the concept of home in the following poem.
makin you eat black eyed peas for good luck,
palms pressed tight as lips before the judge to bless the plates. Fingers announce themselves here — them daps say
I love you, quiet as a pinky promise yet the sound
pulses the ribcage like tires screechin down Capitol; where we from silence is loud, them head nods preach a gospel that asks
only for its parishioners to come home
alive, and God visits whenever you can
put somethin on ya people’s bills — we become Badgers
for bucks, the hustle is a Kleenex
for any tears.
RIP gets airbrushed across
crisp gas station white tees, they fit
too big for man man n nem,
remembrance hugs the body like a flowing gown, the wake is a gala of angels
whose wings are no longer up for auction. The block is hot, candles lappin at the tree roots playin cousin to helium headstones. The block
is hot, them corner boys flip a bottle of water
like Jesus did wine. The block is watched
every smile goes platinum
on the charts, because they are
VVS encrusted. Diamonds dance a cheer routine
from the porch, liftin the double dutch girls to the next verse.
Flashes of Kobe and Curry when paper swishes
into wastebaskets, playin cans is the next best thing
to a free throw line, and bubblers baptize em born
again anytime before the streetlights yawn awake. We become Badgers because the Bucks ain’t the only way
to make a way.
we dream of m’s and find a p,
where granny say
close her door before you let the air out, but it’s always open
when you need it.