THE TIGER CONTEMPLATES HER DREAMS - A POEM

many accuse my people of being dreamless, like ghosts, or objects. of having no reasons to live outside of the hustle. that we are the hustle and are composed of generations of blind struggle. such are the theories of the same ones who used to think we were subhuman primates. we are not primates any more or less than they are. if anything, i am actually a tiger in human skin. this truth has been asleep until recently, then it broke open all at once. my stripes are like stretch marks, or whip marks. 


i have tasted this brand of self-protection/harm before and know that i am both the beast that wants to escape and the beast who is not really a beast. more like someone who lives for their own truth and gets called a beast because the world never quite understands those who are unashamed of who they are, even as an attacked people.  i have been taught to roll my muscles beneath a thick hide. always be faster than they are, my father would say. they come from a higher range of view. they have unseen connections everywhere. they start the race several yards in front of you, and there is no second place in this system, only the winners and the dust-eaters. simultaneously, i stalk nimble around their fragility, their easily triggered fears, their why-are-we-still-talking-about-this, their we-didn’t-put-you-in-cages, the-hunt’s-been-over-for-decades, if-you-can’t-succeed-in-this-country-it’s-because-you-haven’t-tried-hard-enough. 


i prowl around my home, hide from hunters. always this hiding. my teeth itch for some kind of justice i cannot bite into yet. this violence, this blood, this anger tinged with fear. sometimes a growl hides a whimper. sometimes as i bite into the stick nudging me in the face, i nick my tongue with my own teeth. sometimes i rush into conversations, predicting the prejudices that i know will come. sometimes i am correct to assume, and my disappointment is another crack of the whip. sometimes i am wrong and, having bitten into my tail again, i contemplate when was the last time i could talk about these things without feeling under attack, even when i’m not under attack. 


my life is composed of sometimes. sometimes sunlight, sometimes rainwater, sometimes cold winds, sometimes warmth. sometimes safe, sometimes tormented. i can never tell which one i will be at any given time. sometimes we have unhealthy defense mechanisms. sometimes i hiss my friends if i cannot see what is in their hands. sometimes, my mind is haunted by tales of cages, circuses, masters, their whips. a cacophony of painful cries echoing inside my ears. sometimes, there is this ache that i feel nibbling my insides. i can never tell how to cleanse it. 


i have dreams. the kind where i feel myself moving through red and green forests, hunters swiping at my tail. my lungs burning brilliantly. my paws kissing the ground like wings kiss the clouds. the leaves becoming sky becoming the back of my eyelids as i run faster and faster until none of their dogs, their voices, or even the barbs at the end of their guns, can catch me. i wake up tensed in mid-pounce, marveling simultaneously at my ability to escape yet my inability to be at peace. there is temporary peace, yet they always return for me. 

— DYNAS JOHNSON

SACRAFICE - A POEM

I opened my eyes to him,

hunger seeped through my eyelids into his bones.

My toenails curled for him to love me.

I must of lost him in some way,

because every time I think of him now,

I cry.

I never wanted him to know I was afraid.

I thought to myself, I must be ready.

Mama was still teaching me.

We both were so fragile and open,

so lose and free in one another’s blood.

I was still learning how to nurture mine.

He already knew,

but I decided to let him show me.

I closed my eyes and felt it all.

Deeper and deeper we went.

“It hurt so bad - I think my earlobes were hurting.

I was just dying, god and he wanted to do it two or three times.

It was like poking an open wound.

I could hardly walk afterwards.

but I did it for love.

The pain was excruciating,

but I loved him and he loved me,

and that made the pain less -

everything was right, so it was beautiful”

— Tina Turner

— DORIANA DIAZ

HOME - A POEM

A Disclaimer:

Home is an enigma. It is, without doubt, the greatest beauty that I have ever known. But, stopping to consider it now only brings waves of agonizing pain, and reduces me to a number of memories: sights and smells, tastes most often avoided for fear of triggering other senses, and a small, fleeting collection of feelings- the most often among these being happiness. All that has occurred for me since are stages of a fragmented life by a girl who since departing, has been just as such. I believe I was lost to all things when what remained of my family left that place, staying behind in the colored ink that marred white walls in the name of remembrance, requiems for the years and selves that had passed and grown, all distinctly connected in some way still. In the pieces of a larger body, of a girl in her totality. This poem is a testimony to that girl; It is, in all senses, a love letter to the dead, as the broken spirit which inhabits this body now recalls a past life in which it was whole. This is what remains of home.


I am sat on the edge of the water, discovering fireflies. My favorite, however, are always the dragonflies. For they are just as beautiful regardless of twinned opinions. It is summer, and I have long stopped reading signs that proclaim that I should stay away from freezing waters. The birds in this season stick their heads into the water and come out again, alive. I emulate them between bouts of boundlessness, and barely lucid trips through light.

        Kick.

Back.

        Kick.

There is the moon, and I can almost reach it.

I’ve called China on the phone with the letters adorning the dials and nearly started a fire in the kitchen with snaps again. I am not sorry. I am never sorry. We are running through trees and I think if I were not apart of red hoods, red on wheels, and red flames, I’d be green forever too. The wind has no color, though. My mother says that I should be like her. I wish that she could see the birds. Why can’t she see the birds?

I have nearly become one this time.

— TAYLAR ENLOW


A LIST OF SACREMENTS - A POEM

1. I’ll send mami a message through the atmosphere so we can join hands in the air. Her hands made of milk, my hands made of rust.

2.  We will pray on the blood. The stitches will unravel, chills curling my tailbone, like a ritual that remembers without a reminder.

3. I will stick my tongue in mami’s belly and lick the perimeter of her tissue walls, and for awhile I will let the taste linger in the very back of my mouth for safe keeping.

4. I will give mami my body today and what she does with it will be none of my business.

5. Mami will give me hers and the same rules will apply.

6. I will plant a garden on top of where the hurt stared.

7. A bed will be made for us in the bleeding hut, we will lay in it together for siesta, backs on the mattress, tracing the angles on the ceiling and warming one another’s bodies with love.

8. I will reach my bare hands inside her and pull out a butchered hen. the stomach will be cut open with the eggs floating in an orange juice.

9. We’ll cook the hen. Mami will turn me over the smoke of the fire to release me from fear.

10. The distance between mami’s wrists and mine will shrink. 

11. Before the dawn rises we will walk to the riverbank and rub our skins in ingceke.

12. My womb will become free.

13. We will kiss our own bellybuttons.

14. We will kiss each other’s belly bottoms.  

15. Mami will give me her blessing.  

16. We’ll start by draining water from my belly and the sacred passage way will reopen in commemoration.

17. Light will spew from every opening.

18. Mami and I  will walk into the water and sacrifice ourselves like the Igbo people, unbinding ourselves from captivity.

19. At night we will feast on feathers, ash and sugar.

20. The bed where it happened is where we’ll sleep.

— DORIANA DIAZ