in loving memory

roses are red, murder is crimson.
so, when i lose this life,
bury me with a dozen.
show me you love me,
just this once.
place them delicately over my heart,
so i know it’s real.

for all these years, i lived in your cages.
shackled by your vices.
but that wasn’t enough – you needed the visual,
so you knew it was real.
four walls surrounded me as i went without shelter.

four years went by,
& all the tears i shed became tattoos.
freedom was taboo, so i took a little bit from each
& everyone i saw with some.
then i saw it for what it was –
being released into the dream was the real danger.



chapter II – identify yourself

prelude II – little black boy by rjmy

i, just like you, know pain, little black boy.
i, also, have wallowed in the sorrow of this nothing.
i, even, have a back that has been battered & bruised;
they built a great thing on top of me, too.
i just want you to know, i am your brother
i will take time to press my lips against your wounds;
you, too, can tend to mine,
because ,i, just like you, know pain, little black boy

– rjmy

chapter II – identify yourself

one day, me & monilise were sitting on the porch.
we were discussing many topics, one of them being the united states.
he specifically wanted to know the state of her black bodies & how they identified themselves.
his television led him to believe the lighter pigmented folk enjoyed the sweetest of coronas & that the darker ones were disoriented.
he wanted to know why the black body uttered lazy english & was always seen laying on the ground, lifeless.
i found this seven year old boy to be prophetic, measured in speech, and powerfully wise – i have envied him ever since.
as he gave me the floor to speak my version of the truth, i felt far beyond obligated to speak with dignity, intellect, & and some sort of clarity.
i tried to explain the way the black body tries to ration itself: black, african-american, african, etc.
monilise cut my words short – “why would any black person from america say they are african-american, or african?
the disgust on his face left me with an distinct sadness – i knew what he was perceiving.
i presumed that he believed those who knew themselves to be black, african-american, or african, god forbid, to be without identity.

i have been staggering ever since that time, loved ones.
i am writing this piece from a place of sorrow & brokenness.
i cannot help but to feel that monilise knew far more about me then i could ever pretend to know about myself.
i have long walked with a strange hurt in my heart, but never have had the capacity to put words to it.
some days, my body fails me miserably.
there have been days my body has deprecated so deeply that i felt like i could not spend another day on this earth
i have had to see a therapist about my mental health, or lack thereof.
i have experienced illness at the most inopportune times.
i have had to face many demons of days past that i expected to be long gone.
i am spending so much time trying to heal myself, that i often wonder if my eyes can see anyone else.
how could i dare say i am accompanying anybody when it seems my body is the one that needs rescuing?

the truth is, that i walk in this world with many labels, but with no clear identity.
do not hear respectability coming from my speech – i am standing on a far different island of despair
see, i wear these labels like a thousand gold chains, but it is not my fault that i have no identity.
in fact, i share a common bond with the black & brown bodies in this place through that.
we live in a world that has snatched identity right from our grip & left us in that place, held captive.
we have been gentrified, seen apartheid, felt the wicked hand of militarized police & worked for little to nothing, hoping we could get a little dignity.
we have been seen secondary to coffee shops & the comfort of whiteness that lives on an island of ignorant bliss.
monilise was confused by the black body in the united states, because he thought they would offer his distant kin something greater than his own state of being.
monilise knew full well that the black & brown bodies in this country have been long contained by systems,.
he knew that these systems spoke of a new freedom granted, but indeed, his people were tortured & tamed.
what he had hoped for, was that upon my arrival, i would speak of a great place, where he could be free if he worked hard & saved up.
sadly enough, i could not give him what he wanted & actually, i had to tell him that i hoped for the same type freedom to be given unto me in coming here.

i am not disappointed, just made aware of this universal truth:
there is no place in the world where the black or brown body is free.
i am learning, history’s many stories of marginalization are not separate, they are all interlocked.
these stories come together through the sins of abused power & greed.
i believe that god, in the beginning, gave us all we needed, but that we lacked trust, so we took.
in this time & place, i find this shared struggle to be a bit endearing.
i am learning & growing from a people who know what it means to be in long-standing pain.
we are journeying together in struggle, in despair, in a hope that one day, absolute freedom will come.
our struggles have different storylines in specific, but are bound in the fact that, our human life & dignity are on the line daily.
there is no need to suffocate one’s struggle to fully hear another’s; we share in this brokenness together.

where is the hope?
maybe we should not be so quick to rush to that place.
what if we just sat here in this sorrow, instead of logging out to escape sad news.
if there is hope, at least through the lens of christianity, it is that brokenness always is redeemed by resurrection.
if our stories walk alongside that, then maybe freedom is beyond this life.
is that really hope? i do not have the answer.
i, am far too carnal sometimes, & i that causes me to wonder, what the purpose of being on earth is.
what i do know is, i find the love of song & dance here to be so sacred.
it appears to be the most direct sign of reconciliation in this place.
i have fell in love with this, too.
when i sing & when i dance, with this beautiful community, it seems that i have a control over my body that feels quite foreign.
it seems as if when we join together in these two, we are shouting out to god, saying that we believe you have promised more & sit here in expectancy.
yes, the world hurts, but while we have breath in our bodies for just this little while, let’s celebrate what we do have.
that is peace beyond my understanding, far too vast for me to attempt to give words to.
this peace gives me hope, even if the state of our world tries to drain that hope.

  • rjmy

chapter III might not be free, either…