Black Heroism is Unskilled Labor

Angela makes sure the right people die at the funeral.

A grandchild of the Tulsa Massacre, her skin

is artifice, a call to dream so nothing occurs.

When her yt colleague detonates a suicide bomber

she blocks the blast with a casket. It is common knowledge

that womanism does feminism’s housekeeping.

Much as one might travel, one guilt-trips.

In this case, to Re-Reconstruction Era fantasy.

Did I mention that everyone is a cop, and still

someone is trying to tell a story about justice.

Quiet as it’s kept, take something from the blackbox

and a little black ekes out further into the ethos,

but these stories don’t need to matter; they’re made from it.

I find no proxy here in iconography, genomes ache.

“Okonkwo hangs himself in the end” says Angela,

spoiling the final pages of Things Fall Apart.

“Angela won’t die at the end,” I say, to spoil another thing.

No One Speaks of How Tendrils Feed on the Fruits

                                                no one speaks of how tendrils feed on the fruits

                        of my demise     these dead hands                  for instance     that alight                phlox

wild strawberry                 and pine             this is my body out of context       rotting in the                wrong hemisphere         

   I died                     so all my enemies would tremble at my murmur                  how it                      populates their homes     

                              so I could say to the nearest fellow dead person        I know more than

      all my living  foes                  I’ve derived sun-fed  design                             for once                             from

                    closing my oak eyes                           now they’ll never snare the civilian

                                                                     pullulating my throat

Social Death, an Address

I write to you from the predicament of Blackness.

You see, I’ve been here all my life and found,

on the atomic level, it’s impossible to walk through

most doorways. I can, however, move through

walls. I write to you from the empty seat that isn’t

empty. I write to you when a feel is copped.

I write myself out of bed. I write to you as the spook

who sat by the door. I write to you from Olivia

Pope’s apolitical mouth. I am here because I could

never get the hang of body death, though it has been

presented to me like one would offer a roofied cocktail

or high-interest loan. I am only here because I started

eating again. I am only here because I am ineligible

to exist otherwise. I’m only here because I left and

returned through an Atlantic wormhole. I write to you as

the American version of me. In the American version,

Orpheus’ lyre is a gun. Eurydice thinks of doctors,

or, rather a cold hand. It feels like one is sliding its sterile

nails over the curtains of her womb. Once, a healer’s hands

passed through my flesh, and I went on trial for stealing

ten fingers. When my spoon scrapes the bottom of a bowl

it sounds like a choir of siblings naming stars after their favorite

meals. Physicists are classifying new matters and energies

every day. Dark matter, Black flesh are in high demand,

and we never see a penny. I urge you. If you see a sister

walk through walls or survive the un-survivable, sip your

drink and learn to forget or love the taxed apparition before you.

Edmonia Lewis and I Weather the Storm

The places where Edmonia’s bones were fractured still hold violent reverberations. When it rains I massage the static hum out of each point of impact. There is nothing heavier than flesh that wishes to be on another axis, except perhaps stone she shaped. Tonight she tells me, it’s impossible to bring a lover to the small death she deserves. An orgasm is excavated, never given. She takes my face in her hands without permission. I take her waist with care not to treat her like a healing thing. My fear winnows. She is digging me out of my misery with her fugitive hands. No one has ever led me out of myself the way she does when we move as though the species depends on our pleasure. She makes a pocket of me until I cry. I’ve seen that field, the site of her breaking, in the empty parking lot I cut through to class. There is nothing left for us to forge in Oberlin, and still we remain, Edmonia a sentient rock, swallowing her own feet in want of motion. We fit on this twin sized bed only by entanglement. We survive here by the brine of our brutish blood.

Related Poems

a note on the body

your body still your body
your arms still wing
your mouth still a gun
 
          you tragic, misfiring bird
 
you have all you need to be a hero
don’t save the world, save yourself
 
you worship too much & you worship too much
 
when prayer doesn’t work:      dance, fly, fire
 
this is your hardest scene
when you think the whole sad thing might end
 
but you live      oh, you live
 
everyday you wake you raise the dead
 
          everything you do is a miracle