Undertakers by Danielle P. Williams


Danielle P. Williams is a writer from Columbia, South Carolina. She earned her BA from Elon University in 2016. She is currently a poet in the MFA program at George Mason University. Williams strives to write poetry that gives a voice to unrepresented cultures. She has a passion for understanding and connecting with the past and makes it a point to expand on the many different narratives and experiences of her own cultures. Her poetry is featured online in Scalawag Magazine, All The Sins, and The Write Launch.

In Trenton, there are diners, and

jug-handles, and hoagies, and dads that

haven’t seen the faces of their children in days.

There are projects that have nothing to do with

arts and crafts. There is more death than

life walking.


In Trenton, bodies crowd in vacant

houses. Boards block the sight of bloodied

needles. No light to enter the homes of people

long gone. Stiff arms. Empty mouths.

Black faces. Blank eyes.


In Trenton, you better monitor your

utility bills, the crackheads from five houses

down are known for siphoning water from your

garden hose, and convincing your ninety-eight-year-old

aunt with dementia they’re family. Getting familiar

with working light fixtures, heat that softens skin,

warm plates of fried chicken and collard greens.


In Trenton, there are children who

have already lost themselves to people who

label them worthy of colors meaning far more

than you could ever learn in elementary school.

Who are both the trapped and the trappers. Who are

born in the game, never got the chance at a real name.


In Trenton, there are symphony shoot-outs,

a tremolo of bullets, empty shells collecting curbside.

Grandmas peeking through blinds to see a drug deal

gone wrong. Bullet to the head. Body cradled by potholes.

A lone river of blood following the corners of the curb.

Yellow tape. Fresh chalk. Don’t worry, the city will

send the street sweeper in the morning.


In Trenton, there is a gallery displayed on

every abandoned house. Ride through and see

faces of the famous. Understand that they only

honor the dead when they are rich and familiar.

Forget about the friends lost last night. Veins plump

with poison. Nobody ever thinks to exchange names,

let alone a face, cold and shaking next to you.

So, go on – paint another mural of Biggie.



In Trenton, the very first thing you see upon

entering is a fucked-up slogan on a

faded green bridge.


It reads: Trenton Makes, The World Takes.


In Trenton, there is a small boy. Made of flesh.

Residing on Oakland Avenue. Two weeks into pre-k.

Black. Hopeful. Let’s hope he doesn’t find out that the

world only takes what it deems acceptable. Leave all the

trash and dead bodies for others to deal with. Leave all the

children without futures, give them lifestyles that are far too

rough for hands un-calloused.


The Acentos Review 2019