Julian Randall

Julian Author Photo (1)


Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. A Pushcart Prize nominee he has received fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT and the Watering Hole and was the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. Julian is the curator of Winter Tangerine Review’s Lineage of Mirrors and a poetry editor for Freezeray Magazine. He is also a cofounder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Nepantla, Rattle Poets Respond, Ninth Letter, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol and The Adroit Journal among others. He is a candidate for his MFA in Poetry at Ole Miss.

Pregame Prayer with Complete Citations

Our Father who art in Heaven[1]
Hallowed be thy name[2]
Thy Kingdom Come[3]
Thy will be done[4]
On Earth as it is in Heaven[5]
Give us this day[6]
Our daily bread[7]
And forgive us our trespasses[8]
As we forgive those who trespass against us[9]
And lead us not into temptation[10]
But deliver us from evil[11]
For thine is the kingdom[12]
The power[13]
The glory[14]


[1] My own father will miss pregame in the act of being a Good Son, of calling my grandmother who will accuse him of being a thief. For this small, repeated trespass, I briefly hate her. I ask you, bless his throat; that I might hear him as I cleave a boy loose from what he holds precious.

[2] May the crowd have cause to say my name, may they find no humor in its mispronunciation, no confusion in its simple weight.

[3] May the field be ours for all of October, may the Junior girls know a mosquito’s lust. May the mosquitos fail; may I be that kind of impenetrable.

[4] Spare me

[5] There is a cabin on a lake with a name I cannot pronounce. I know that is where the white girls take the white boys and learn how to be a boardroom or a family or just a carefree they interpret not at all carefree songs to be. This cabin is far Lord, it is far and I am not invited. This is the only heaven I can see. May I crack another boy’s skull and in his defeat, find a key.

[6] I know, I know this is the only time I pray. I promise what you know I will never deliver. Give me this day, tomorrow I will moan your name in a valley of ice and we can compromise, call that praise.

[7] A boy wraps another boy in his arms and throws him towards the Earth. We call this “Eating”, we are never full.

[8] Mercy my knees, mercy my ankles, mercy my groin its little ravine west of want. Mercy what is already torn.

[9] Forgive the fact that I will not forgive the invited intruder, forgive that I am willing to die for what I am only renting.

[10] I do this as a means towards sin, you know that.

[11] Spare me the purgatory of a sideline where I might have more to sacrifice but didn’t. Spare me the agony of being the goat that survived.

[12] There’s no place on the field that the spiral of the chapel cannot be seen and yet, I have never seen it.

[13] Grant me the strength to place fear in the space I used to be.

[14] Grant me the acceptance of people who will never return my calls after this year.

[15] Amen.


Friday Night Lights #1

Home field sits beneath six obnoxious moons so you know this is another planet.
There’s a field in Idaho where sparrows snap their necks by a combination of desire and
proximity. This might be hearsay, but I believe it. The field in Idaho is blue, not
the shade of anything you could drown in, but like Blue food coloring, which you can
drown in if you try hard enough. All this to say, there’s a football field in Idaho where
I heard there’s a man whose entire job is to sweep up little foolish deaths. Their field
is not my field, but their death might be my desire. By nightfall there’s so much light,
there’s barely a sky at all, I love it best this way. If you think I’m the bird in this
scenario, you’re right. Note my desperate not-wings, featherless and stark against the
not-emerald. The grass is not grass but if you bow, and you will, your knees ache
the same. At the edge of the field there’s a school, at the edge of the school there’s a
me. In the road between the two I’m barely visible, a feather troubling a lake.
Minnesota is full of lakes, Minnesota is full of cabins, Minnesota is full of lakes whose
guts run thick with iron, Minnesota is full of things the light doesn’t have the strength
to reach. I lead with my head; I feel my neck warn me. Down the middle of me
vertebrae groan into a range of hills the breeze cannot climb.  My palms ripped clean
of their soft by the iron of an iron bar, fished from a lake by the beak
of a machine. I sympathize with the birds, I mistake things for home all the time. I do
not look back; I dive into the boy

reckless for this land
I lower my crown     swear
I will die the king of something

Friday Night Lights #20

His arm frayed just below
the skin     he had tried to bench press
250 pounds without warming up
everything has a limit    everything has a seam
I cursed his arrogance
the bar came down a slow guillotine
blunt  the shade of moonlight
when something in him failed
I was a witness    when his pectoral tore
I was a witness      it was not sudden
the flesh separated from the flesh
he barely screamed  
I had to drag him through the dust
on the stairs from the weight room
All the while he shouted I’m pretty
I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine I don’t need
to go anywhere
  He thrashed in my arms
a new born    bird    featherless  sputtering
and if I let him go he would have been free
the way we know free     wounded    lonely
sure that we would lose him
for the whole season   
He got loose in the hallway of the school
we did not pay for    He ran the run of a beast
who is one arrow short of understanding
until he fell down in front of the admissions office
its glass door     its many white women
he lay there clutching his useless arm
telling me to go fuck myself    all of this still in front
of the admissions office      until I took him
by his sculpted shoulder   became something like a mother
if a mother can fear most their child
being exactly where they put them
if a mother can be like my mother
Medaria stop with this foolishness
white people are looking at you

in many ways these white women thought they were our mothers
I was afraid of that       there were only four Black boys in our grade
even as seniors    I feared a slow guillotine    the brief blade
of a white woman’s smile     might have been the end of us
If every birth is an act of mercy
we lived within the most temporary country
we did not belong there      none of us
What greater mercy was there than to silence
the grief in its crib before it ended us all
White people are looking at you
Medaria got up    we walked to the trainer
All the while he mumbled like a sad radio
I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine

Friday Night Lights #51

During the away game against Delasalle Sammy dislocated his shoulder and pushed it back into place without telling anyone. He collapsed five plays later; something can be out of place and still be inside. When he fell, he fell like a building, slowly and into himself until there is only the quiet where a window used to be. There is a difference between hurt and injured, something can be out of place and still be inside. If we know, anything it’s that. Let me clarify what I mean by we: when Sammy’s shoulder buckled beneath his own desire the amount of Black boys who were Seniors and had two working shoulders decreased by 25%. Sammy failed the way a building fails, the rust’s appetite working its way through the walls of him. They took him to the sideline; someone took his helmet off for him, someone brought him water, someone asked him how much it hurt as if he wasn’t going to lie. Sammy didn’t talk much, fuck he look like telling the truth when we down by 14? I am not blameless here, I didn’t think to hug him then. I prayed that that would not be me. I prayed that what ails me would be invisible enough to stay in. I tore my groin that game trying to protect someone else. I tried to save somebody, I have not walked the same since. Sammy cried for what felt like hours with the game passing behind him, each thick braid spilling across his face. The body is a building we had been inside our entire lives, somewhere beneath Sammy one joint fumbled at the other in a way that could be mistaken for lovers. But I said the body is a building so Sammy too was a building; inside his arm one joint tried to fit into another, pulsing, desperate as a sparrow making an exit with its skull.

© The Acentos Review 2017