Let this sink in,

 

 

so far in
until you feel
that same somersault
feeling in our gut.
It may take awhile
or it may take a second
depending on the color
of your skin or how loud
your voice can say, “I too
have had enough!”

Of course, you didn’t know. How could you

It’s not as if you were raised like the others,

grown from the ground of the ruptured & raptured,

 

the sweetly forgiven, abandoned to the truth

of never settling down with the unsettled self,

with words they denied & flesh they condemned

 

for not believing in what the hands used to call the soul,

which turned out to be a misunderstanding;

you thought they said soil.

 

The gritty, gone, going away of everything

precious and good. A mudslide boy,

down the hill of all your hopes and dreams,

 

the daily unfolding of your disappearance,

a black & white print of your cheap silhouette,

hat an angry god fondled with guilt, while choking

 

on mirrors he said was the light. How painful the

swallowing must have been, & still be so wrong

about being right, like all religions based

 

on blood and the million ways to spill it.

Of course, you didn’t know.

How could you?

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


In the throes of war,
the body keeps
rigid
in FIGHT or flight.

chests-tighten.

sharp in—and–out-in-out-in-in mouth breaths keep the fire RAGING.
blood floooows to hindbrains before spilling.

as I scream “Americaaaaaaaa, Americaaaaaaaaa”…

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


You knew your time was short and Umi discovered this news too. She said on one of your first dates she read your lifeline and it barely reached the base of your thumb. Somehow I knew.

Do you remember how I used to say that I wouldn’t get married unless you would officiate? I don’t know how I knew, or whether I thought this ultimatum would preserve you.

Perhaps knowing that I was in good male hands would grant us both peace

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


Inspired by the story of Charles Wootton, born in Bermuda. This black man was killed by a white mob in Liverpool – he was chased into the River Mersey and pelted with stones until he drowned on 5 June 1919.

 

History will haunt

until it is acknowledged.

A slosh of settled attitude

enveloped a body,

the heart was a river run dry –

of blood.

Charles Wooton fled 18 Upper Pitt Street,

Liverpool?

A question rather than a bed,

always on the look-out,

eyes in the back of the head.

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


You take my breath
So you can
Breathe
Deeply
Safely
In your privilege
My air
No air
Now in my lungs
Because I’ve been
Holding my tongue
A word spoken…

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


The bold arc of your odyssey: from soul-shunting slavery to sweeping vision,
From bales and blisters to blackboard chalk and opened books—
Dear Booker, as in your flinty era of lynch-ropes and urgent witness,
Brother after luckless brother is consigned to runaway gunfire,
Though they claim this purblind, punch-clock carnage,
This jeopardy (our children turned to carrion in Ferguson, our water turned     poison in Flint) is not a form of broadcast war.

Booker, you died in 1915—in a cat’s-cradle of malignant war,
Human beacon, slave-no-more, captain of perpetual vision,
In a roiling era of gas masks and carnage,
Each battle-lost son a poppy blooming on a black lapel, or pressed into a gilt-edged book,
Each staunch fusilier surrendered to the incessant gunfire
Of Flanders Fields—conveyed in soldier-poets’ verses of keen witness—

You know, a mile away / I can smell a child of divorce. / The smokiness of melted wedding rings / and the sheer drama / of custody conflict / settle heavy in their hair. / Trauma inevitably produces / a certain look / in a student’s eyes / a sunken sleeplessness / but to be fair / sleeplessness is usually just attributable / to stress / and school is stressful— / it isn’t a disorder / to just be unhappy. / And please, do not interrupt me / if it was serious, I would notice. / Don’t you know / that $70 t-shirts can’t hide / self-inflicted wounds? / Do you really need a thesaurus / to tell you / that smiles during math class / are synonymous / with nothing / but profound joy? / Why yes, I am still befuddled / by the Challenger disaster / —why do you ask? / It’s a basic question: / how could a screw / have been left loose? / I thought the upper class / had eradicated / brokenness. / And how could anyone / leave this Earth / or make it out / of their house / if some deep, rumbling / part of them / needs repairs? / And if it does / shouldn’t they do what I did / when I was sad for like two months, / once? / That is, / dye their hair pink / send up a low-budget angst flare / bright enough to stand out in / a chattering navy sea / of Georgetown sweatshirt-clad suburbanites? / Why would they not want to / share something with me / and likely be told, / Yes high school is hard / for everyone? / God, did you people really think / you’d have a productive meeting / about supporting mentally ill students?! / What are we, anyway: therapists? / You know, I might’ve trained / as a therapist / but it’s very taxing / to be this skilled / at projecting / my lifelong wellness / onto others. / And no, I know, / what you’re thinking / but I’m not just scared / that my own kids / might actually / go through something / that I can’t / pay their way out of— / I’m very perceptive is all. / Now that I think about it / I actually would’ve made / a great Army sniper, / not because I’m / a stellar shot / but because I’m so good / at having someone / in my sight / and not thinking of them at all.

it’s hard to tell,
with the familiar way the sunshine hits your face as you walk outside,
that an invisible danger buzzes silently under surfaces previously thought benign,
and you shake your head every time you remember.

is it here, in the skin most familiar to you,
the breath of the one you think you love?
and even so, i wonder, can you turn away as they lean in to whisper,
to tell you a secret you already know you can’t keep?

is it here, in the handle of the front door to your childhood home,
the same door you slammed so many times both in anger and anticipation,
the one you still expect to see your mother standing behind?

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


I. Plantation Tour (One Star!)

“Vacationers have been sharing their disdain
for guides emphasizing the annals of slavery.”

Let me tell you, what I didn’t need,
Cher Guilt-instilling Know-it-all,

Was a boring-as-sawdust lecture at Belle Fleur
About the bone-breaking perils of slavery!

FYI, Miss Firebrand Liberal,
It wasn’t all that bad: I’ve heard

Plantation slaves often sang happily
While collecting cotton—

Look, I can’t possibly be racist because—
Get it!—I’m Sicilian-American: see,

My people never enslaved anybody!

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


There’s no kindness in your eyes / the way you look at me, it’s just not right”—Hilary Duff

I used to know how to save the world / now I don’t know anything anymore”—Justin Chin

 

(—Once in a blue moon, maybe several times a week,
I write a truly great American poem;
Here I will tell you abt 8th Street . . .
my rules for American life—:

Generally: TV always; no sharia law; don’t say gay; bathrooms are sacred; no hugging/touching (men); don’t pay attention to politics; really, don’t, they only need you every 4 years; small talk is an art & national pastime; acceptable small talk topics include complaining abt wife, kids, kids’ sports, schedules, Chinese boss; even if you hate sports, you have to pretend; candy corn is the worst; mac-n-cheese is the best side. 

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


So you’re intent on devouring the sins
Of the plundering country

That murdered your pedestrian sons,
Your seldom-cop-safe children,

That tore the defiant music
From your paragon chest, the inmost

Prayer from your winter-cracked
Yet rancor-less lips—

Exorcist, it won’t be easy!
Sin-eater, would-be saint, beware!

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


a White friend was expressing how upset he was
by the burning and looting and random violence
being displayed by the thugs fighting our police.
He noted that calm protests and talking is best.

I gave his comments consideration and then said,

when has talking peace and protesting quietly
prevented Black men and boys from being
randomly targeted, victimized, murdered,
imprisoned and accepted here in a land
of free and brave like you, my friend?

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


he knelt on his neck
releasing Black butterflies
raging w/fire

Restrained

I, born of the title of

Virginia Woolf’s sister

Mourn the passing of my paintings in the privacy of this new home

No. 8 Fitzroy Sq. bombed last night – art the only fatality

Clustered, cloistered, perhaps, by other people’s things

Second hand. The generosity of others is not unwelcome

But,

the task at hand to make of them her own, is, in itself, an art form

After all, one can always paint more paintings