The grandson of Lebanese and Syrian Catholic immigrants, poet and professor of law Lawrence Joseph was born in Detroit and received his BA and JD from the University of Michigan, and a second BA and MA from Cambridge University. His early poetry often references the discrimination and violence he witnessed as a child, including the 1967 Detroit riots and the violent attempted robbery in 1970 of his father, a grocer. Joseph’s work, informed by his practice as a lawyer, engages themes of power and truth with an unsentimental clarity.
Joseph is the author of several collections of poetry, including So Where Are We? (2017) and Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos: Poems 1973–1993 ... more »
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It's Not Me Shouting At No One
Before dawn, on the street again,
beneath sky that washes me
with ice, smoke, metal.
I don't want to think
the bullet pierced my shoulder,
the junkie's rotten teeth
laughed, his yellow hair froze.
I'm careful: 1 smoke
Turkish tobacco cigarette butts,
1 drink a lot to piss a lot,
I fry the pig in its own fat,
eat the knuckles, brain, and stomach;
I don't eat the eyes!
Always four smokestacks
burning bones, somewhere
tears that won't stop,
everywhere blood becomes
flesh that wants to say something.
It's not me shouting at no one