I'm pretty over being told to put my hands up in the air...
Brandon O'Brien is a writer and poet from Trinidad. This is his other brain.
Caution: May contain intense critical analysis, long rants, and uncomfortable (but necessary) subject matter.
for Popshot MagazineThe Illustrated Magazine of New Writing; Popshot is an illustrated literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry from the literary new blood
Black dog, get off my back…
i wanted to try graphite powder on this one, in hope that soft shading of big areas will be quicker…. But i don’t know if i bought some shitty powder (only that it was the only art powder i found in stores), or i’m doing it wrong, because it’s impossible to make it darker, it does only really really light shading so i need to add layer in pc anyway. Pencil shading still works better, but it takes sooo much time.
I already know my protagonist is prone to drop his code-switching etiquette and slip into dialect when he’s flustered.
That should probably also happen in his head - I’m presently writing a scene where, in response to being disrespected by a minor character, his narration drops into Trini vernacular English almost immediately.
So maybe that’s a thing.
Also, guess who’s behind on his word count?
You probably won’t find me back here any time soon.
It’s been a hard couple of days to try to
make dates, my dance card is full up to
its neck in dust and other people’s talk and
you serious? and we does only deal with
folks who serious and lots of longing, too.
I thought I saw you out of the corner of my eye
walk down Ariapita Avenue late last evening
but it was just some spry little girl in a green skirt
on her way to whatever was hip and saccharine in the city
on a Wednesday evening. What even would that be?
I wanted to ask you, but I figured you’d be busy.
I wanted to say how tired I am of the idea of work
but I figured you’d be busy from taking that theory
into practice, from planning, from showing me up
with regard to the performance of adulthood -
you’re a natural, doll, a real natural,
I could learn a couple of things from you.
I want to be wherever you are
because you are always far away from whatever
I have to do and dread doing. Do you see
the hilarity of that? We’d never see each other
again if that affect is true, I think.
So I’ll go first. I’ll leave through the kitchen door
with neither note nor nimble foot;
I’ll give no past or prior warning,
because I don’t think I’ve ever had a moment
thinking you would if the time came,
and the time can only come,
that’s what time does, inch toward you,
so I won’t wait for the time when you change
your name to Busy and your age to Tired,
when your watch runs dry for me.
Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to learn from you?
The thing that makes children into adults?
The fear, like dust in the lungs, that one day
no one will think you worthy of their eyes or ears?
The fear that none of your cooing will make
strangers swoon, that you are not baby-lovely any more?
Loneliness? Is that what age gives me?
That’s what time does, inch toward you.
I’ll close the door on my way out, I promise you that.
I don’t think I could trust you to do the same,
so don’t complain.
So I was having a hard time getting words out today,
and then Renisha McBride made the news (or rather, the lack of discussions of Renisha McBride making the news materialized in my newsfeed).
I’ve been discussing for a while whether the way this story was shaping up left gaping holes with regard to how we should discuss race-related tragedy compared to how we do discuss it.
One of the symbols for the novel, in fact - the victim’s name, and names in general - is what I thought I’d use to unravel that point; by asking the protagonist to challenge the idea of the worth of calling the dead by their names, ask what names mean (i.e. why parents often name their children after great people of the past), and consciously discover the value of calling names instead of descriptors for humanity’s sake, I want him to grow into the way that identity is affected by race both before and beyond the grave.
But the victim’s name also affects the name of the activism around it. His name becomes the name of, and the banner above, the entire struggle for justice regarding racial violence in this space. And I wanted that to get thoughts flowing about whether other people’s names, identities, and stories can get eclipsed by the movement’s need to have a unifying banner in the first place.
In short, whether saying Justice For Trayvon is part of what puts justice for Renisha McBride on the back burner.
In the link above, Brittney Cooper does mention that part of what dwindles the coverage of violence against women of colour is the narrative of laying young black men low in the prime of their life, and that’s worth exploring - how the lenses through which we observe racial violence works against women of colour when their time for justice is due.
So the fact that this is an important train of thought is reinforcing the notion that this first draft is probably garbage, but I owe it to myself to get it done. It may not be the best story of its kind in the world, but I’m determined to tell it.
See? I’m so tired I can barely remember what day of the week it is.
I’ve begun to hate the late-night creative epiphany.
Really, creative genius? I’ve been struggling to write a scene of my novel for upward of four hours, I couldn’t remember two of my poems during a performance meeting, and most of my poem drafts from the past three weeks have been tripe,
but at 1:03a.m. on a Thursday morning you decide to stir me just as I’m settling into my bed and infuckingsist that I write the first four stanzas of a draft right now?
I need sleep.
Gimme de ease-up.
You know what’s never cool?
Making a point about how men objectify women by stepping on trans women, insinuating that considering a trans woman attractive is a mistake of some sort, and joking that sexualizing a trans woman is some sort of punishment that men will one day face for objectifying cis women.
You know, instead of just telling some men straight-up dey on shit.