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.
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 is the author of Hull (Nightboat Books, 2019).
Date Published: 2021-02-25
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/black-heroism-unskilled-labor