The Hills, and Other Little Things

Somewhere, past the tin can church we held,

Lie the words we have shed

And those we still hold.

 

Come now, these clothes are weighing us down

Let us set down this burden,

Lay naked on the cliff face,

And traipse the mound ten thousand men had marched before us.

 

You seraphic eyes, blondebrown hair boy

             of old folk tales and love with open arms

                    and flatpain chest. There is no life save when these

                              palmsmeet. And these chests heave in haemophilic sunrise

 

There is Sun in these vessels

and the trestle in you.

 

He who loves between beigewhite knuckles

                    and the folds on page 21 or 32 or something

                                                       and floors of empty port glasses

 

He who I lost in the recesses of adorno

                     and the baring of these hands

                             and the falling in these sheets

 

You are falling apart around me,

pooling at my feet

staring up my skirt as I cry

 

Long lost friend who I had never found

let me find safe in the crook of your heart

you do not have to loveme tonight

Just hold

Do not let me go

 

We can reconcile

       these pieces;

                               put us all back together again, with what we have collected since

                                       us both, we have been broken

                                                  must we be fixed?

                                                can we not be found

                                                 amongst the rubble

                                          and in the curve of this slope;

 

Look, they have paved us a path through paradise

And destroyed it on the way

 

Can we see the hedges as friends

and not as boundaries

As shelter

and not backs

 

You of upturned cornered mouth and soft eyes

You of patterned speech and quick tongue

You of finding and search and unspeak my uneasy

 

Thank you for showing me this green again,

                        and showing me learn again

and uprooting the complacence in my lost

and unearthing the shrapnel in me I’d forgotten to love.

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The Trouble With Poets. Or, Trying.

I. December 2nd

 

So tell me your darkest fear

Tell me how you fear yourself above all

Warn me not to care

But I will still be here

 

Tell me you will hurt me

I will show you my healing wrists

Tell me the world is cruel, dark and unforgiving

I will show you the chasms of skipping heartbeats

 

Hold me to you with palms flat against my chest

I will show you the beauty in resistance

Hold me to you as you crumble

I will catch the broken pieces on my tongue

 

We will fuck between palms, fingertips and broken hearts

Write poetry with death

Revive dreams long since forgotten

Swap our skeletons and hollow souls

 

We will quiver in pools of scarring tongues and self-destruction

Watch the darkness kiss sunlight with touching palms

Listen to shuttering breaths

You will close your eyes and shut me out

 

Talk to me about the war you are having inside

Collapse all foundations of fear

Tell me your darkest secret

Show me your ugliest mask

 

I will still be here.

Please, just never hate me more than you hate yourself.

 

II. Lessons on Loving the White Man (after Jeanann Verlee)

Or 10 things I would say to me on November 29th

Or Reasons why I am a Masochist

 

One

 

This will end how you have guessed

Do not fight the inevitable

It will be easy to find perfection in his privilege

And beauty in his broken

Ready your heart for the open

And bare

And lost in his voice

 

Two

 

You will meet him when you least expect it

Him, thick rimmed glasses, eyes full of secrets

Him, head down, entangled legs on dancefloor

Him, holding the skin between your black and shorts

You, holding on for sanity and leading him into your sanctuary

A sopping open book

He will look into your eyes and ask about you

Your dark eyes will grow to be a euphemism for your skin

You will speak in euphemism disguised as prose

 

Three

 

His black and patterned cowboy boots will find a home at the foot of your bed

Your bed will grow used to unravelling threads and facial hair

 

Four

 

You will swap poetry but your metaphor will not be rich enough

Your command of your mother tongue will not be as fluid as his French

Do not allow yourself to gravitate towards him

The first time he hurts you; read the signs

The next morning, regret everything you are

Wait on his apology, it may come

When he tells you not to care; ignore

He will forget the things you talk about.

 

Five

 

Time will pull you into your respective worlds

 

Six

 

When he says I love you, check to see her name erased from the top of the message

Stay up all night thinking about it, convince yourself

That your dark and bitch are worthy of love

Do not question it in the morning; he will forget.

 

Seven

 

The night you bare your soul

Do not expect the courtesy of a response

Do not check your phone more than once

Do not text him again to remind him you exist

Do not expect him to love your damaged as

You love his dirty and hidden

Do not fall into the nine year old girl wishing she was white so the other kids would stop touching her hair, so their parents wouldn’t be so scared of you coming over

 

Eight

 

Remember it is all in your head

Remember he has never uttered your name in public

Remember he will never mention you to friends

Remember he has only ever noticed your black and thick

Remember he is not yours

He will find her again in a city of apple blossom and mangled consciousness

Sit in empty bathtub and console yourself with wine

 

Nine

 

Black is designed to absorb beauty, make white light forget to illuminate.

What made you think he could see the flicker beneath your heavy chest?

He loves your heavy chest

Do not let him appropriate your bones with this idolatry

Do not let him refashion your Ochun Aphrodite

You have spent far too long twisted and open as the legs of fertility dolls to surrender the story in your melanin to him

Do not let him use the word nigga until he understands why

Do not let him use you to affirm his identification with rap

Do not let him use you to cement his rebellion against his parents and privilege

Your love is not your oppression, not a misappropriation

Do not regret the missing silk in your hair

These kinks and coils were gifted to you by generations of women who bore children on their backs, grew phoenix from scalp as husbands raised open palms, your mangled afro is your strength

These coils will hold you together on the darkest night.

 

Do not let him force feed you his fix me

I’ve never been with a black girl is a warning

Black girls always get given white boys to fix before he

Realises he needs someone his parents would be more comfortable with having at the dinner table

Black girl typecast peripheral

 

Ten

 

Do not love him more than you love yourself

You will need to be able to fix your broken

On days when it feels like this melanin does not belong to you

When he realises that

Men like him

Are not made to love

Girls like you

 

Wait, when he looks you in the eye

Remember how it will end

 

The third begins with a poem by Him,

 

I will call it ’Again’

 

Last night you made me feel my body was mine

and whole and not a cut up montage for

a feast of men and women to devour

with hands and teeth and eyes while by the hour

the god inside retreated to his store

of worlds and threw them into the divine

wide universe as far away through time

as hand or arm or leg or thigh could swing

as heart or eye or ear or mind could see

when last night you reminded me of me

and how my skin and your skin could be a thing

of everything and how our thoughts could rhyme

if not commensurate while last night you

perhaps thought nothing of the things you do.

 

III. Revisiting Shattered Glass

Or, A Love Letter to Moving On and Loving You Still

 

There are fights I am not yet ready to raise fists

for and I am not yet ready to stop loving you

but these limbs had grown weary and these hands

are coming undone and these eyes are no metaphor

 

There are words which refuse to find themselves between us,

“I loved you.” “-

I am more afraid to say you hurt me than to keep thinking you

don’t or won’t care “-

 

And words abstract our being

All that we are is poetic license, retone and touch up until

Distance                                                                    is                                                      warmth

Melt me down to                                                                            concept,

 

you cannot love in the abstract,

cannot feel in the abstract

Still brand the inside of this mouth your

own and I will bear your contorted crescent moons

 

and watch dawn with me

 

but this silence is not poetic

just prose

 

and these limbs are not lithe

not smooth, cannot contort and this heart is no acrobat,

 

There is no beauty left in this space

But I see beauty in us, everywhere.

 

On bodies, and prisons, and air

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Tell Mother Earth where you have hidden her children;

Of their smooth and brown adorning your cell walls;

Of the uterus you have imprisoned her in;

Of their smooth and brown growing into your chalk lines

And the crucifix you have prepared for the soft in her lovers.

 

I know Willows don’t just weep for the children who play beneath them;

For the day they will learn that home is no safety

And laughter no harbour

And the bodies we leave behind when we loot this soil

 

The nostalgia in this landscape will soon be dismantled

As the heaviness of clouds; switch and sharpen

Like the lenses of cameras

And this silver rusts

 

You have clipped the wings of too many birds to find normality in this freedom

Yes, I know why the caged bird sings Maya

She’s learned to love these bars like the hollow of shot glasses

Spill this bitch and nigga and dyke from mouth

 

Still, one day she will look fearless

In the eye as she says no

She is learning to catch the slack in her own chin

 

Incarceration is a hymn this skin has learned to wear well

And unlearned the purity in keeping the apex of these thighs a secret from ourselves

 

No doubt, these caged birds will soon sing songs in packs

They know this melody falls like the oval of a raindrop at birth

That when it finds home in many throats, like the storm in these eyes

It will soon be impossible to escape.

 

I am still choking on the story

You have written mine

The histories between your leaves are not my own

 

My words sit between the lines of this soils history

Passes between dandelion lips which cannot forget

 

I am no victor,

I have seen too many of my kin slain

For your unholy throne

 

We have lived in bodies lain waste to by these fingertips

Souls broken by the crook of this tongue

 

These hands have been dipped in blood for too long

The pyramid between these touching palms

Can cry for no god.

 

I am in mourning.

 

Sun kiss these blades,

Wish them well in the war that lies ahead.

 

*******

 

I learnt to glamourise the

Towering of hell and all that is pain

Over the small spaces in which I carved my first words

I now know that euphemism is the crack in which hopelessness can germinate.

When we learn to love the art in our bruises

We often forget how we got them

Or to resist

 

There is no healing in silence

I am ready to speak.

 

I will kill the dyke from his lips

By loving myself violently

 

I will remind these boys and girls

That we are human

 

I am learning to navigate the open mouths in these clouds

I want to find heaven in this grey

I want to find it for us.

Jake

Watching Sunrise

Somedays, my brother and I lean on sunrise;

learning from each other in silence.

Our changing shadows speak us home,

as the sky casts us palettes

and the Sun tears the last of night from the sky;

a kiss of a greeting

and ghost of warmth

weightless

 

Darkness is a shear we learnt

to use whilst floating.

We speak the silence of home and familiar, and know.

 

Watch a rush hour in the sky

as restless clouds busy themselves with escaping our

gaze as we hold this abyss and old friend, our own.

 

We speak the silence of home

on a bank of dreams we refuse to regret

The Moon squinting at this brilliance.

 

Sunset and Sunrise, the only beauties

we have not learnt, but know.

 

Still.