Elegy for Julius Gaw

Even though I’ve seen the scene well over thirty times 
& know how it ends, I still have hope 

percolating in the cells of my body that this time, 
some miracle will reach through the screen & save him, 

that though he faced death on the ashen clavicle of that Manhattan building
before the lone audience of the moon,

he would somehow will his exhausted body
into slipping that fatal Sunday punch & escape free, unsmudged & alive into the night

& perhaps it is just the world refusing to let me be, 
to stay out of my head for the runtime of the film,
those now forever anchored to being young who hail from families 
elected by the god of circumstance to carry the murders 

of their sons or fathers or brothers for the remainder of their days. 
 I cannot help but realize just how many times I have seen the soul of someone Black 

literally exit the pores of their tiny mosques of muscle & flesh & vacate this life 
& how each of their final moments was a horror film 

I did not pay to see & cannot let go of 
& in some way, isn’t this the nature of being Black in America?

Always residing so close to terror that we are wounded, but never surprised,
when it pitches one of us into the limbo of its maw?

Me, I want the alternate ending, not just for Julius, 
but for all the other young Black men buried in my brain since their passing,
Each one, the news tucked into the pink soil of my mind.
I want the alternate ending 
where a burst of lightning blossoms 
in the belly of the copious dark & brings them life again
& they gaze into the black eyes of their fates 
& say Take your best shot, motherfucker

before punching their hands bloody
& staving off the afterlife’s hungry invitation.

I want the alternate ending
where they each find their ways back 

into the company of those who loved them most 
& in the distance, night fades to morning 

& a brand new beginning sets upon them 
as the credits start cascading down the screen

& the language left on all their breath
is the antithesis of anything close to horror.



— Christian J. Collier


Christian J. Collier is a 2015 Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellow. He is an accomplished artist, public speaker, and educator who has shared the stage with members of HBO’s Def Poetry cast, Rock& Roll Hall of Fame members The Impressions, and Grammy-nominee Minton Sparks. Some of his works have been featured on The Guardian, and published in such publications as The American Journal of Poetry, TAYO Literary Magazine, The Seven Hills Review, and Apogee Journal, to name a few.



Editor’s Comments: Julius Gaw was the hapless character (played by ) Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Fandom/Wiki says, “[this movie] is a 1989 slasher film and is the seventh sequel to the original Friday the 13th. It was directed by Robert Hedden and written by Victor Miller and Robert Hedden. It was the last film in the franchise to be distributed by Paramount until the 2009 reboot.” The low resolution image is fair use in this context, but the copyright belongs to New Line Cinema (originally Paramount Pictures).



The poem is literary piece with phrasing suitable for a performance poetry delivery.

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