Three Poems by Donte Collins

Donte Collins

Donte Collins

Donte Collins is a surrealist blues poet named the inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of Saint Paul, Minnesota, the recipient of a McKnight Artist Fellowship for Spoken Word, and winner of the Most Promising Young Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets. They are a 2021 Gregory Djanikian Scholar selected by The Adroit Journal & the author of Autopsy (Button Poetry, 2017), a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award. Collins received the Mitchell Prize in Poetry from Augsburg University and is an alum of TruArtSpeaks, an arts & culture organization cultivating literacy, leadership, and social justice through the study & application of Spoken Word and Hip Hop culture.

Queer Haiku #1

body: narrative
spirit: abstract. example:
i love you/ i love

Queer Haiku #3

narrative: the boy
singing of love is the rain
wishing to reverse

Queer Haiku #4

abstract: the rain sings
of love, guides the boy back
to his body, rinsed

Queer Haiku #5
the end of the universe is allied to what the universe contains

Queer Haiku #6

of bloodroot, collard
my smile a sentence you
complete. i love you

Queer Haiku #7

lord, i want to be
of use. of love, my breath. birds
softening the rain

Queer Haiku #8

coppered, night-twined son.
your beginning forgets you.
your life, the next word:

Queer Haiku #10

moondark as the day’s
salt. our shadows wet against
the wall—breathe with me

Queer Haiku #9

your name a gemstone
returned from a dream. awoke
thundered in burnished light

Queer Haiku #2

we make what can’t be taken,
what can’t end in vain. Nigga;
Night, moons chase our love

Queer Haiku #13
the estuary of our love is allied to what our love relents

Queer Haiku #11

tonight, the moon is
a secrete the clouds weep while
confessing: d o n t e

Queer Haiku #12

latin. means to last.
endure. & doesn’t the rain
wish to mean its name?

Queer Haiku #14

gone with your lover.
i fever desire’s stone
& shatter the moon





never around a father’s waist
           never a father    never
or brought out for decoration
          never bought to fit &
somehow fits when sunday
          come around & even
can’t save you    not the kind
          of salvation that keeps
your mother’s hands fixed tight
around her leather bible
          damn. almost forgot
          i’m made
of that too
i too was born from slaughter    ha
          i too was severed from the body
that grew me    even the skin
is good for something donte &
          look at yours: sizzling   nearly
smoke on my lips   wrapped
          around your mother’s fist    i am
merely the messenger    the red
          cloth dizzying the bull    the rake
scraping cement   yes    the wasp’s
          benevolent kiss & us    a slow
motion massacre    crimson    kin
          yes. i wish. i could. pause. this.
moment. too. cradle you instead
          unslice the burning air   unswell
your sweet skin   i wish i was your
          mother   wish i was softer to greet
you gently: alabaster    sugarcane
              wish me wind    & you
the whole flock & you
              the whole flock & you
the whole flock & you






The beginning of the body cannot be found.

From here, the snowstorm’s tattered sheet makes
The deer a spotted shadow puppet, the graveyard’s
Locked gate makes the deer allegorical. Sometimes,

When I am not asleep, I swell with worry. I swell
& the train’s automated voice reminds me of my stop.
Winter begins everywhere. This city is slush
& construction. Last night, a stranger’s warmth.
Our bodies pressed into new punctuation. The opposite
Is also true, even when asleep, a woman’s mechanical
Threat in my ear: No Smoking. Federal Regulations—
Remember me,
                        Remember me
As the wind strips
Each oak clean, a bone. Everywhere evidence of our
Brief feast & yet the bill is too high a gate to jump.

Fine, once more: Hunger Is the body’s first invention. Loneliness.
                                                                                   Loneliness its last.