I Consider a Twitter Follow

I pendulum on whether to press the button. I pause. I ponder

the little blue birdie that tells all of our thoughts to the world,

wonder if bald eagles have already gone extinct―dropped

dead to the earth like bombs built of bone, beak and feather.


To say I’m living in a time without symbols is also to say

there is no higher calling than protest, than the calling of

fingertip to keyboard, our new key of life, and yet I hesitate

to endorse anyone in a way that can be counted like a vote

of confidence, when, on the contrary, I’m shaken daily

solely for the music of it, bone-shingled skin bag beaten

against by tempestuous winds I’m told are coincidence

rather than conflict between our planet and our politics.


I believe the word I’ve been looking for is fear. Everything

bigger than me there was to believe in now seems entirely

too big a target on my back; I’m left interrogating myself

on what I still hold faith in during these dumbfounding days:


when I’m in a church, I still believe in the idea of divinity;

when I’m in a school, I still believe in the idea of education;

if I’m invited into a woman, I’m to believe, at least, in power,

programmed to be a man not unlike all those men I despise,

another reason I’m made queasy at contemplating the click,

though it’s a way to keep my enemy close but also theoretical.


I stare directly into the dearth of punctuation and grammar;

the gutter of blood above my eyelid overflows, causes a glitch

of motion, a flicker in the flesh. I’m smart enough to stay away,

but curiosity is a narcotic, can kill. But so does a lack thereof,

I know, because a little blue birdie told me so, sweetly sang

he’s trying to distract you, so I turned around to find nothing

behind me, and that’s when it happened:


a button somewhere

being pushed on somebody,

a trail of digits dictating

follow him, follow him,

follow him

Cortney Lamar Charleston is the author of Telepathologies, selected by D.A. Powell for the 2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. He was awarded a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and he has also received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation Literary Festival and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. He currently serves as a poetry editor at The Rumpus.