Where the vision was is when / There are wood panels all over the house shared by many people / and I am a collective member of a white simulation in black face / There is a man with a low fade who is my friend without his dreads / Never a mirage / Never my eye casting out to itself in memory / There is a fight between the races / Water in the tiger’s mouth / A window / Twin slate moons huddle on the horizon / an oceanic circus of gray-light / a lion in a bubble / Now, all is on the surface / In the back, two blonde women sit on the floor while praying to the dead / We think this is the reason why we’re all here / Him, the white man sitting next to my friend without dreads / Unleashes his mouth / A backwards tongue gaped in riddle / In a kind of future-speak / Saying what sounds like: Is us behind us is each a door, is each a phantom, is each a pool, is each is a broken river looking back / Everyone is now frozen like statues and won’t say anything when I shake them / I lift the shades of all eyes / and every time / I see the same child


Copyright © 2023 by Jonah Mixon-Webster. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 19, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“‘Territory’ is part of a larger series of dreamscapes. This portion comes from a night vision inspired by my time spent in a group called Temporal Arts Collective. A diverse set of creatives, which first included Nick Compton, John Farmer, G. Matt Mapes, Miranda Metelski, and me. We shared plenty of good times and a few bad ones. It was a wild and beautiful experience, which I think the dream and poem capture. Yet, we all know that even the best and wildest things must come to an end. I am grateful for those times and I love them still.”
—Jonah Mixon-Webster