1. Can we go back, 
    this is the moment, 
    tonight is the night, 
    we’ll fight when it’s over, 
    so we put our-

    hands up 
    don’t shoot 

    I want to say it’s
    as easy as a song lyric 
    but people carved like me
    have sung darker songs 
    have pointed out what grows on these trees
    ex fructibus cognoscetis eons
    of broken backs and broken homes

    and breaking free

    this has not been our moment for a while 
    I can feel the screams from over the seas 

    I have scraped the skin off the bones 
    of their lies 
    and held them within calipers 
    this is the thickness of racism 

    I have measured their law books 
    from end to end 
    have taken note of the weight of their pages 
    this is the thickness of racism 

    I’ve heard lanky white college boys ask about fucking 
    over African sound 
    or African-sounding 
    and don Jamaican accents beside half-Trini trap beat 
    this is the thick drawl of racism

    they want us to stay calm 
    not get overwhelmed 
    emotions destroy the cause of 
    not being destroyed by other people’s emotions 

    those who are hunted 
    only do not look like animals 
    when they remain tame enough to be shot 

    you are given nothing 
    you are getting hunted 

    fuck bein’ on some chill shit 
    we go zero-to-a-hunned, nigga, real quick

    we have rocks 
    and our hands 
    and godly light 
    and our voices 

    only half of these things can free us 
    but the other half just makes sense 
    to keep moving 

    I can’t tell the difference 

    the ceiling has been holding us 
    before we could remember 
    once we sailed with the ceiling 
    as your footpath 
    and once we worked with the ceiling 
    as your foot 

    now we live 
    with the ceiling 
    as the bottom of your expectations 

    the ceiling has been holding us 
    before we could remember 

    we can’t ever put our hands up 
    in celebration 

    only for God to comfort us 
    and to you 
    to feel comfortable

  2. Sometimes I feel detached. Like space is turning around me and leaving me behind. I’ve become untouchable, I say aloud then, no one can feel me. I can walk right through responsibilities, plates stay stained on tables, my pencil rolls away, anything tangled or dusty remains. I’ve become untouchable. It’s a dark observance, and sometimes it calls sharp sounds around me, things to wake me up. Maybe I’m asleep, I ask aloud. Maybe I need this. Sharp. Maybe. Because it would make no sense besides if I asked this question to those I know are alive although I’ve become untouchable, and yet I’ve become untouchable. Now, no one answers my calls. I don’t think I’m here, because otherwise I’d be angry all through this moment. And yet. I’ve become untouchable.

  3. Takin’ een mehself on #CupOfJoeTT this morning in the hospital and an old man taps me on the shoulder and says, “Da’is you? Yuh lookin’ better dere dan yuh lookin’ here!” I know, ent? For which I must thank @facesofbellarouge! And much blessings to @abeoaisha for the chance to share on the show! #poetry #spokenword Don’t forget to get the shirt! #BCPL

    Takin’ een mehself on #CupOfJoeTT this morning in the hospital and an old man taps me on the shoulder and says, “Da’is you? Yuh lookin’ better dere dan yuh lookin’ here!” I know, ent? For which I must thank @facesofbellarouge! And much blessings to @abeoaisha for the chance to share on the show! #poetry #spokenword Don’t forget to get the shirt! #BCPL

  4. to whom it may concern, 
    the owner of the knuckle-shaped stamp 
    that placed ‘property of [redacted]’ on my 
    cheek one day, indelible, 
    daunting, tragic: 

    I see you got yourself 
    something new to wear. 

    I see you got yourself 
    some new ensign of the kind of care 
    I wish you gave yourself when I 
    put sheets of paper listing my sixteen loves 
    all about your sixteen losses of blood 
    in wounded lovelessness 

    here’s hoping 
    when you keep those things on your chest 
    you keep those things close to your chest. 

    I keep asking myself 
    if it’s forgiving you 
    if I want you to shake the speckles of 
    hate off you. 
    It isn’t. 
    Your name still makes the furthest edges of me 
    stand at attention 
    and beg the wind to lift me up 
    and drop me so far from you 
    that my memories have to ask for directions back. 

    I probably just fear you enough 
    to want whoever someone finds in your skin worth loving 
    to be so much different than the you I address right now. 
    That way they’ll never wake up on rainy February night 
    feeling like they added two numbers 
    and settled for half a decade with
    the wrong sum
    when they needed that final answer for themselves. 

    I see you got yourself 
    something new to wear. 
    Maybe if it were small and tight 
    and perfect enough for just the wrist 
    you could keep its ink there 
    so you never forget what you 
    owe yourself and others 
    because damn if one morning 
    something holds you close and 
    you just didn’t happen to take your self-care 
    out of the wardrobe 
    that would be a fucking tragedy. 

    So maybe 
    wear it to bed 
    whisper its cotton wishes onto your flesh 
    every cold night you can 
    til it can’t come off again 
    til its will becomes still 
    til its will becomes flesh 
    takes rest upon your weary fearfulness 
    and won’t let go 
    take it on and in you like a prayer 
    maybe then you’ll be different 
    a mantra with a you inside it 
    maybe then I would even see 
    you walk past me in the street and wave. 

    at the shirt. 

    I don’t care if we’re matching next time 
    hell, the size you’re in may even have for two days been mine 
    it doesn’t matter to me once the 
    shirt starts stretching 
    into something that swallows the worst of you whole 
    and makes all your glistening sharp 
    turn down. 
    leave home looking 
    like something gentle. 

    leave home looking like 
    the shirt means something.

  5. About to go ROCK THE MIC on #SynergyTV! Come take in the #Emancipation #poetry vibes tonight at 8! Check us out live!

    About to go ROCK THE MIC on #SynergyTV! Come take in the #Emancipation #poetry vibes tonight at 8! Check us out live!

  6. (‘loss’, suggested by amy—li)

    It’s hard to not see 
    letting go as surrender. 
    As a mark of failure, as 
    white-flag forfeit of all your truths, 
    as dropping. When you let go, it 
    falls out of your hands to the floor; if it’s 
    fragile, you’re never getting it back. 
    What you pick up is sharper than what 
    hit the ground. 

    I long sometimes for the soft edges 
    of the fine thing I released before it turned 
    brittle, before it lost little chips at 
    the side and tried to take off my finger once. 
    It feels like I turned my back on something 
    that could have loved me if I stuck it out. 

    But then there’s that finger. 

    I let go. It made sense. Not 
    the clatter and the shards, although I’d be 
    lying if I said the noise wasn’t cathartic, 
    to know it was so scattered for a moment, 
    inconsolable, vibrating. Like I was 
    when I had to wrap up my hands from it. 
    Sometimes I think to myself that it’s 
    a shame I had to give up my favourite plate, 
    the thing I had all my bitterest or most 
    savoury secrets from. 

    But then I remember 
    it’d be worse if I had to miss a part of myself. 
    I can eat off anything. Plastic, in fact, 
    has never bitten since. 
    But I can’t fill a hole 
    whole if something tears me. 

    It was her or 
    the finger. It takes a while to remember.

  7. (‘old age’, suggested by browngyul)

    I wonder how often the old mind 
    dusts off its twenties. Looks through mental 
    bookshelves for the best record of all time 
    or the actor it had a crush on when all their hormones 
    were charged and restless. I want to get there 
    far enough to see what becomes of us all. 
    To hear them say Cloud Atlas is ancient and unlovable, 
    to hear them call Justin Timberlake quaint, 
    to say ‘I get it’ because I do, 
    young people always see the dust of time, 
    it’s a bad thing for them to step in, it stiffens 
    the joints of course. By then books will write us 
    and techno-jazz-zouk will be what people listen to 
    when they’re sad or something; everything will be neon-blue 
    and sticky-sweet and I will still have the things 
    people who died before me said were too new. 
    Old age is the proof that time doesn’t love us. 
    Old age is the proof that we don’t love everything. 
    It’s all just a bunch of imaginary lines we 
    drew to keep our trepidation out.

  8. (‘emergencies’, suggested by esiuolaras)

    Don’t ask a twelve-year-old 
    to know death. 
    He’ll always fidget in the face of it; 
    when his grandmother says ‘I think it’s about 
    time I met my maker’ as she lies in bed 
    on a still afternoon, sun still peeping through 
    lime tree branches at her, light upon her wrinkles, 
    he’ll ask his brother if he knew what that meant. 
    He will answer rudely, in part because 
    he’s hoping that’s not what it meant. 
    They don’t know the difference 
    between sleep and weightlessness. 
    Don’t get mad at them, 
    they don’t know what warrants a warning bell. 
    It’s been just as long since that moment 
    and they still fear not knowing a lot. 
    They ring the bell for everything now, 
    you can hear it; they’ll run riot 
    with their wrists dancing the brass curve 
    outside your window for as much as a 
    bad joke involving aspirin and a sharpener. 
    Everything is urgent because 
    nothing can be taken back. 
    They don’t want to hear the song for graveside sunsets, 
    so they’ll play the alarm like fear is life 
    because fear is proof that 
    everything is beating just fine, or finer. 
    We’ll ring for joy, 
    and you’ll curse us after. 

  9. I can hear her 
    trying to pull me down 
    from the other side of the highway 
    from the other side of the Bus Route 
    from the other side of the river Styx 
    where she wants me so bad to take a bath 
    so long that she can stew me 

    they built a wall between 
    blackness and the road most taken 
    just so I could sing with the siren 

    somebody got shot today 
    it wasn’t me, no way, 
    it wasn’t me, no way, 
    it wasn’t me, no wa-a-ay 

    fuck the siren-song 
    I want to drown 
    Ophelia has much rumours, I’m sure 
    secrets about where this water came from 

    I can hear her 
    speeding down in red rowboats 
    full of whatever fell off Charon’s last truck 

    fuck the siren-song 
    if I’m deaf to it 
    I can imagine everyone’s still here 

    not humming 
    whatever it is they heard 
    my fingers in my hears 
    finding something to sing so the sound doesn’t stab me still 

    somebody got shot today-

  10. (‘drugs’, suggested by illusionsofstrength)

    I mean to do better than all the men 
    who have died for this high. To have this sweet 
    stuck to my teeth. To hide under the dim street 

    lights of these pale thieves’ routes of dust 
    and strip them, shamelessly, of all their spices. 
    To dance in the dark above it all, if dance suffices - 

    to stitch together something silken for a lost young 
    love who lost their way home and their tongue 
    feel leaden and can’t lift up any of their childhood songs. 

    To see clouds write my name slowly. 
    To hear the blood in my skull start the drumline. 
    To feel cotton-mouthed and cotton-skinned and alkaline. 

    They already say I look like the kind to revel 
    in this sugar. Let’s, then, have this sweet 
    stuck to my teeth. To have it rule me, when our lips meet.

  11. (‘2 a.m.’, suggested by international-nerd)

    I have built a fort for all my hopes. 
    Bricked it up to the hills and higher with stones carved 
    of the landscape of time. In the very tallest 
    tower sits my dreams, on a wooden chair 
    he built to refuse the cold ground, looking out what 
    could have been a window but in all honesty 
    is merely a lack of more concrete. He looks out at 
    the chances he could have had when he was free 
    if it weren’t for being here. Or being himself, 
    prone to those gazing meetings with 
    clouds that wouldn’t pay attention, 
    prone to drifting off. Each light is a 
    tittle on a word he can’t find to describe 
    this awake feeling, he says. Strewn about are 
    mementos of his embarrassing days
    that he refuses to look at. He doesn’t need to. 
    They’re not there for him to look at. 
    If he could throw them out the window, he would, 
    but there is no window. 
    They’re not there for him to look at. 
    The other way around, surely.

  12. (‘curves’, suggested by deewhydeetee)

    Nothing stays the same shape for long. 
    Some parts of me swell, with sweets, 
    with sourness, with stillness 
    sepulchred beneath my once too-bony body. 
    Slopes where the rain runs races. 
    It’s not so steep as some say - 
    when I mention it aloud, people frown, 
    ask ‘where is it that you 
    keep these alleged curves, then?’ 
    I am not cut from marble 
    as an Etruscan marvel, of course, 
    those who have still sipped from this body know that. 
    Instead, molten things bubble beneath 
    and the land reorganizes itself 
    over each other. 
    Nothing stays the same shape for long. 
    There is little virtue in a thing that wishes to.

  13. No one can claim my pain from me. 
    I worked really hard to not have it, 
    and now I do, it was a gift given 
    by spiteful youth and I cannot scratch my 
    name from above it so don’t you 
    dare even hint at it being your first. 
    You weren’t the one that bore claw-marks 
    and counted them to the melody of 
    the first love poems that bore your murderer’s name; 
    you weren’t the one putting friends away in boxes 
    atop wooden wardrobes so your lover would kiss you; 
    you weren’t the one who needed alibis for lunch dates 
    and drew escape plans for impromptu get-togethers; 
    my face will never make you scared 
    it will only make your blood run white-hot 
    and I can’t say the same. 
    When I see a silhouette of you in the places we used to be 
    I shiver with a kind of cold. I cannot forgive 
    your knuckles, for your palms knew well 
    what they could do. You will not take 
    even my pain from me by force. 
    You’ve done enough taking already 
    when I was willing to give freely 
    that I will not let you touch 
    what is mine. 
    Take your foot off my pain. 
    I need it back. 
    It belongs to me. I’ll take it 
    as far as I need to bury it. 
    You will not make a trophy of it 
    so long as my blood runs shivering of you.



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