You Can’t Stop Mourning: Featured Poetry by Morgan Parker

February 5, 2019

Our new series of poetry excerpts continues with a poem by Morgan Parker from her new book, Magical Negro. Parker’s previous book of poems, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, ends with the unpunctuated line “Why do you get up in the morning”—and Magical Negro offers playful and powerful answers. This ekphrastic piece follows conceptual artist Adrian Piper, whose “Everything” series pivoted from the poem’s enigmatic title. “Here are some ways in which,” Parker writes, “you are not free.” Her truncated lines often drift into our chests: we’ve been spoken to, and we want to hear more.

“Everything Will Be Taken Away
      after Adrian Piper

You can’t stop mourning
everything all the time.

The ’90s, the black Maxima with a tail,
CD wrappers, proximity to the earth. 

Glamour and sweating in your sheets.
Speaking tongues. Men, even. 

You are a woman now
but you have always had skin.

Here are some ways in which
you are not free: the interiors

are all wrong, you are a drought
sprawling. When you see god

you don’t like what you see.
It is never enough to be born

again and again.

You like it at church when
strangers hold your hand.

You have a mouth men bless.
You look good enough to bury.

From Magical Negro. Reprinted with permission of Tin House Books. Copyright © 2019 by Morgan Parker.

is a contributing editor for The Millions. He is the culture editor for Image Journal, and a contributor to the Catholic Herald (UK). He has written for Rolling Stone, GQ, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Esquire, and the Kenyon Review. He is the author of Longing for an Absent God and Wild Belief. Follow him at @nickripatrazone and find more of his writing at