To Stand Down (And To Stand By)

A Pangyrus selection for Juneteenth.

ancestry is all i have / the only artform that
remains / how else to explain this oscillating
darkness / my id without effort and very little
edit // here is how i show you voice /some
shards / some silt / the evisceration of slang
on altars made unkind {if not un-kin} // what else
were you expecting / it was you {after all} that
hauled kilimanjaro into kentucky / our pristine
snows melting into an ohio river your fathers
polluted {and now olodumare has his dander up}
so i cradle in both palms mounds of dirt to ears
and sing along with the convulsive slag / if
i mumbled O’Guinevere in my sleep then blame
disease / for in my sleep i often curse // you said
“show us the concrete of you” but all i have is soft
& fertile and a need to be festive so please (i beg)
stop gifting me asphalt as filter effect / my
perspective remains away from kilter and
is seldom out of focus then {in critique & by default}
you say of us / of me: the cis black poet only
shows us his dick
and you betray me // i write
“repeal” / you say “repetitive” and neither of us
can break tradition // so i bequeath to earth my
dying gasp / breathing through this apparatus of
black skin / this inheritance willed to me // a
wealth for which your purses were never designed



This poem is from What Tells You Ripeness: Black Poets on Nature, Edited by Nikki Wallschlaeger, a Pangyrus collection available in our store.

Image: Original art entitled “Coming to America” by the author.

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