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Imperial Liquor: Poems
by Amaud Johnson
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020
Paper: 978-0-8229-6606-7 | eISBN: 978-0-8229-8729-1

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Imperial Liquor is a chronicle of melancholy, a reaction to the monotony of racism. These poems concern loneliness, fear, fatigue, rage, and love; they hold fatherhood held against the vulnerability of the black male body, aging, and urban decay. Part remembrance, part swan song for the Compton, California of the 1980s, Johnson examines the limitations of romance to heal broken relationships or rebuild a broken city. Slow Jams, red-lit rooms, cheap liquor, like seduction and betrayal—what’s more American? This book tracks echoes, rides the residue of music “after the love is gone.”
 
Smokey
 
the most dangerous men
in my neighborhood
only listened to love songs
 
to reach those notes
a musicologist told me
a man essentially cuts
 
his own throat. some nights
even now, i’ll hear a falsetto
and think i should run

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