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How to Protest

Or Say: a piece of rope at the top of the stairs where shame broke even and shame blame and victim bad-name got it’s nasty plug.

Poetry | Poetry Tuesday, poem
September 1, 2020

Say: I seek refuge from the siren streets. I seek it for my cousins, sisters, brothers. I seek it for non-blood but water relations. I seek it for places we cannot see yet but are building in our road collection of hopes and critical utterances. 

Say: I had a dream where we graced a rally’s front stage. We held hands, I yelled obscenities into the world’s microphone- riddled pores. I said I love this girl and she deserves everything. Your palm creamed mine in loving sweat. 

Say: I had a dream we died on top of anvils stacked to the gunshot beat of a waterfall. This water belongs to me, you said, this water belongs to my great-great-grandmother, I said back. Oceans everywhere started to roar a chorus, whirling a pool of what looked like a glittering hereafter. I am allowed to want to leave, we determined. We determined the concentric circles whining in our bellies. We defined this as longing. 

Say: Indentured and the waves harassed our stomachs. 

Say: Cutlass killed her, but on deeper investigation it was a kidnapping from the motherland that began her undoing. It was seasickness. It was generalized anxiety disorder. Tell it to the courts and watch them laugh it off. Tell it to the balloon-made avatar, floating in the corner of your room. You don’t own birthdays anymore. When someone tells you are nineteen you Say: nineteen, who is she? She is not a ghost, just a funny stranger. 

Say: Oh me mama, me gone.

Or Say: a piece of rope at the top of the stairs where shame broke even and shame blame and victim bad-name got it’s nasty plug.  Or Say: that was my sister.

Say: You on my father’s cassette player Say: me out the window Say: it for always 

Say: That’s the way it should be. You earplugging through a field of cane workers, muting their slicing precious calls for you and your body. Say: This body is a rocket and your love is my countdown and that’s the way it should be. Say: my name. Say: my name and draw it around your belly. Ask me if I want to wear it out.

Say: I love this highway and what it does to my chest when I’m exiting, quick-impact, into your neighbourhood. 

Say: I am home and you look tender and by the kitchen window I am very affected by the diasporic Indian way you tilt your head.

Say: I built a house for you in Paradise and it looks like the one my grandfather prayed for as he drank out of an aluminum cup and watched the sun go down over his homeless night. Thesis is we can make it. I wade through Demerara sugar’s liquid history and I graduate. 

Say: God the greatest revealed the truth and I see it as the crowd’s sonata becomes a chant and my phone lights up with tags and comments of my shouting face. Say: I wore your name so much it became this transparent seal over my body. Innocuous and defensive. Slick and affecting. Your woman-thumbs reset my vocal chords and I am fit to toss the waves again.