1/30 [a name]


Photo via BerlinArtparasites by @nessikythian

[a name]

i was asked before and / could not speak it, the mouth struggling to name / the motor giving voice to gut-engines, to the tremble / in back of throat-muffler, machine-neck sanctum of flesh and blood, / guarding from the light in through the windows, the alabaster shield of blindness / in the temple, skins of water and the dying below my feet–/ name it / the loss, the defilement, the breakings into the sound of noon,/  the piercing cry–name it– I could not find / a place to call home anymore if asked on a map–name it–for the spaces / written into my mind and blue textbooks shouting ‘we, the people’–naming us ‘we’ and I was / a we but there are those who were not, sitting with me in the classrooms & reading stories like I did, internalizing self-doubt that weighed more than they did but we could not and the books did not name it / racism –the first time I could name it, the days still broke in my favor, I had nothing but the name on my tongue, the spit in my mouth and a desire to tan my skin on the weekends, to to extort and borrow something now interpreted as beauty–but when asked to name that–I still could not, whether I was just too slow or / just only one alone I couldn’t speak it, kept using Chappelle specials to smooth over the cracks in sophomoric biases, / smooth over with salves of humor, humor as justification for internalized & subtle hate and something like hate is / where laughter came from. that I can name–insecurity–the belief above all that I must be special–some kind of twisted creature / white supremacy–unnamed until almost 20, unravelled in classrooms and lunch tables and the bedroom of a biracial girl who somehow tolerated my incapacity for names, forgetting syllables that I should have known by then, / syllables ingrained into the names given by the ancestors, ancestors who crossed seas and looted countries, took possessions, killed everyone while I rooted for them in movies / as a child mostly, but who doesn’t want to name themselves as the john wayne, single-man defining destiny [manifest in his hands] and slaughtering all the bad guys, / returning from college to small midwestern cities and realizing you / are those enemies, / like something they cannot name, something different and revered by some who never escaped, hated by others, who could not name / you even if they learned it all by heart–learned to see where you were / and the people at the feet of their alabaster hallways, the blood-gold dripping from cloaked and breeched statues in town centers / the things we cannot name from the inside of our ice castles, the inside of our gut-engines, spilling out onto the floor, / lying next to porcelain android, blue-eye crystal like glassiness in the moonlight–watching movies about love between two men, I try to name / this feeling, but it escapes me.


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