Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


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.

Credit


Copyright © 2021 by Xandria Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 25, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“This poem is part of a larger ekphrastic project called Spectacle. ‘Black Heroism is Unskilled Labor’ is written about Watchmen’s Angela Abar. As much as I love the show, I am drawn to critique its shortcomings, particularly Black characters standing in as an artifice for change in a world of cops.”
Xandria Phillips

Author


Xandria Phillips

Xandria Phillips is the author of Hull (Nightboat Books, 2019).

Date Published: 2021-02-25

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/black-heroism-unskilled-labor