I always tell my dancers. You are not defined by your fingertips, or the top of your head, or the bottom of your feet. You are defined by you. You are the expanse. You are the infinity. —Judith Jameson Elizabeth Alexander in The Black Interior writes about beauty, and how black artists resist monstrousness by their own self-definitions. I’m interested in this repair, too, but find comfort in the ugly. I love monsters. We both consider Brooks. In the poem, “The Life of Lincoln West,” when Elizabeth hones in on two white men describing little, black Lincoln, specie, I zip to the poem’s end, to what I read as Lincoln’s release: “it comforts him to be the real thing.” I align after June Jordan, whom am I when pinched, patted, and bent? Get behind her defense of Black English in On Call: How can I be who I am? We do with what’s given. I suppose, I may not share viewpoints, but still, I connect. Of prose, Meena Alexander says she uses it to clear the underbrush to make space for the poem. Vacate fields, ropes, a body. Don’t hate on Elizabeth. Do you. Frame how she pairs Brooks with Lawrence and Bearden. To argue, she opens walls, and living rooms. So, you like death? Is your project Fanon’s? Is this all a setup? Fan – on – it was a jolt in perception, then. Pieces of this, repeat. Toni Morrison, where she writes: the remains of what were left behind to reconstruct the world these remains imply. Ties to Brooks’s litany of the black body that endures, a stream of violent verbs to enter, under buzz and rows of halogen: burned, bricked, roped to trees, and bound. Now, what contexts shift in the stacks that glare before you? And how do you return, after, to what seized Brooks at Fisk, standing to face all those Blacks?
At the top of the hill, before the light gives way to the pine
that fractures across the sky,
and the farmhouse, opens its door to shadow, there is a
It is not the dead bird, lying out flat and face down in the
middle of the street, its brown
belly on the pavement, cooled by the wind.
It is not in my chest, which opens up into sections as I
breathe in the air that almost
shocks me into falling face down as I climb the hill.
It is not the breath. It is not the sky, which I haven’t looked
at, staring up at the
mountains, which spreads down through the range up the
It is not my knee, which seems at any moment will collapse
into if nothing else,
the breaking beneath my legs, the final moment I push up,
towards the end of the light.
There are shadows which cover the sign: SUN, painted in
blue at the peak of the hill.
So, where, today, will I direct my anger?
Where will I turn, running past the women, who hover up
the road, no cars,
crawling into their beers in the middle of the day?
Fat and White. I refuse to grow any fatter, or to not tan.
I burn off another self, sprinting up the high hill of my own
burning Kcals toward the peak of my own release. In this
face, “What a view?”—
someone asking another. Was I supposed to seek
something else into which to slip?