Session Two Anthology
MENTOR: Julian Randall
Michael Receives Advice from Marceline the Vampire, the Queen of the Dead Beat Daddy Issues, on How to Cope with an Absent Father
Just cause he's your blood
you can't expect him to stay.
The wet red of men will abandon a body
if offered the opportunity
of a gash.
This is vampire one-o-one,
dude. You think you're the only one with a phantom
for a papa?
Before my old man
found a new home in a dimension
where I do not exist, he was the type of father
to forget his child needs
food to survive, can't live off
promises; he forgot his devilish charm
will not sustain anything
but the shine of his pointed canines.
My dad, too, is in the business
of policing bodies
(when they're post-body)
and he wants me to love him
for who he is
not: ignore how he holds a weapon
longer than he held me, how he’s more committed
to untethering souls from bodies
than to his family, he wants me
to adopt his addiction
I said, I want to be a musician
and he handed me a battle ax
if I wanted to rule over the night
and its many spheres.
if I liked the sound of that?
You know what I did? Tricked
that ax into a murderous bass: attached a bridge,
and plucked a defiant melody till
daddy was so filled with disapproval, he imploded
All my songs
reek of a hunger that grew
its own set of teeth and began
to feast on itself.
Now when I swing
I inflict a violence he can’t comprehend.
When I sing, I can shred silence
into sound: a sorrow that can't kill
me. You should give that a try.
Music is just a purposeful arrangement
a juxtaposition of what is here
and who is not.
Some days, I want to snap the neck
of my bass and quit calling all my hurt
back into my room to watch
gaping-eyed as I perform,
but this is the only way I know
how to unempty myself.
Besides, all of the greatest hits
that have moaned out
of my bloodshot bass
have been the consequence
of pain that crawled into my chest
like an abandoned child
and cried itself into song.
Michael Frazier is a poet, performer, educator and recent graduate of NYU where he studied Literary Arts and Black Narratives. He was a member of NYU’s 2017 slam team, which won the co-champion title of the 2017 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational in Chicago. Michael has performed at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Earshot at Shoestring Press, and the Gallatin Arts Festival, along with various venues and Universities in the New York City area. He has poems published in Amazon Day One, Confluence, and others. An alum of Callaloo 2017, nowadays he writes poems and teaches English in Japan. Follow on Instagram @Fraziermichael.
A Letter To Culture Appropriators
My hair is my connection to my ancestors--
The enslaved, the forgotten, the murdered.
It is a message to the conqueror:
They can continue to colonize my country,
But they will never succeed in colonizing my blood, my culture, me.
Each strand is a hit at the master
That no matter how much they chain and beat me,
I will continue to stand on my own, for my own.
My hair holds history.
So much history that your whole head couldn’t bear the weight of one strand.
But you weave your blonde baby curls
Into cornrows the very next day.
You, the one who can’t spend an hour in the sun without lotion,
Can’t bear the weight of the breaking backs as we lifted baskets of sugar above our heads
The sun’s rays the only kiss we received on the scars on our back
Left by the man who looks like you.
You can’t begin to imagine
The way people turns to us,
Says, “Your hair is too unkempt.”
They way teachers send you back home because it’s a distraction.
You’ll never know
What it will be like to wish on a shooting star,
Hope to god that you’ll become white,
Have beautiful Barbie hair, have a boy look at you and stare.
You’ll never know what it will be like for someone to look at your head,
Have someone whisper, “That’s the style they rock in the ghetto.”
Look at you, wondering how you have no shame,
Tell you to learn how to tame
That knappy thing you like to call hair.
You won’t know none of it.
Because black never look so good than when worn by a white girl.
History stripped onto thin curls.
Maybe one day we’ll forget where it came from,
And you can claim another thing from us as your own.
Dagla Samira Rodriguez is a participant in the The Speakeasy Project Summer 2017.
These are still the child-bearing years and
my womb is a mouth stretched wide with hunger
contemplating a new bloody burial.
Twice now, that I have not died, and
yet my womb is resenting its empty
but my granny’s momma would warn, I’ve cheated
Death twice now, and the third time be the charm.
Don't the kids I already got need me enough
to heed my granny’s warning without doubt ?
The Death almost got her too, and my momma
decades after. My kids need me enough to swallow
the want, most days, but last year
the Death almost came- A Cyst burst and shoved
blood into soft tissue. I learned later the Cyst
mighta been Baby, the want of my heart most days.
I’m sick with not knowing how close I was
to new soft tissue. Later, I lied in bed wondering
what I would have named the bursting.
How close I was to imagining a would be face,
pretending to not believe in curses.
But these are still the child-bearing years. Maybe.
Brittany Rogers is a poet, mother, educator, and proud Hufflepuff. She is Co- Chief Editor for Wusgood.black, a literary magazine which creates a safe space for urban writers. When she’s not looking at poems, she’s decorating things with glitter and dying her hair colors black girls aren’t “supposed” to have. Brittany has work published or forthcoming in Vinyl Poetry and Prose, Freezeray Poetry, Gramma, and Tinderbox Poetry. She is a fellow of VONA/ Voices and Pink Door Writing Retreat.
Blinding multicolored lights wash across the bare backed dancers,
Pushing the body past physical limitations into the abstract flow.
Two minds, one being, bodies joined by the orbital pull
Pushing two minds into cohesion; tension caught between in the flow
Muscles sing their agony in tune to the melody
The spirit freed once pain is forgotten, succumb to the flow.
Bodies meld, thrumming with neon energy
All a part of the beautiful flow
Movements charge the air, the psychedelic vibrations.
The figure begins to glow, an angelic flow
Everything melts back into disillusion, leaving nothing,
Weaving nothing but the flow
Await a dawn’s grasp:
Warmth’s hand carves an arc on land.
Wait a blank slate, marred.
Grace Li grew up in a sheltered community where everyone spoke with the same intonation, thought the same thoughts, and acted the like preprogrammed machines. It wasn't until she discovered books that brought her out of the monotony. Grace's story began when she picked up her first book, Magic Tree House; then Grace's passion for literature began to blossom. First, fiction: contemporary, historical, and fantasy, then nonfiction and poetry. At first, Grace didn't like poetry because she didn't understand it, but as she got older Grace began to revel in the vagueness and her ability to interpret the poem. Currently, Grace enjoys crafting her own universes that exist between the pale blue lines.
On The Inescapability of the Wolf
“Hope I don’t look weak/cause when a wolf cry/wolf you still see that wolf’s teeth mothafukka”- Lil Wayne
Make no mistake/when I cry/me/it’s a klaxon forged/of bright teeth/I am never not/the wolf/and so I stay/the only thing/I’m afraid of/make no mistake/in some version of physics/the moon/must have the capacity to howl back/this is not a limitation of distance/only desire/make no mistake/I write from the wound/because I have not been killed/or killed you yet/when I summon me/it is a silvered affair/the bestial element/of me/is nothing at all accidental/I am designed to know best/an identity that is fear worthy/for its capacity to not starve/I want to say something/about vulnerability/how even the defining feature of a wolf/necessitates softness/how many howls rattle the flesh/of my gums still/how many little peninsulas of my own/blood must I wear/for you to know I am fearsome/that I fear me/with good reason/I am saying that I am/never/more dangerous than when I am/aware of how alive I still am/I am/never/more fearful than when I am/aware of how alive I still am/when I cry/me/nobody arrives/they run/if you are lonely/appetite dictates/you must be your own prey/the things/most likely to kill me/glisten beneath/my own flesh/I am told/the brain is not pink/at all/more the hue of the moon/or a set of teeth/populated by static/I told you this wasn’t about/distance/only desire/not about the moon you know/so much as the stain/from leaving something alone/for too long/the way glass drizzles/into wood and eventually/the discoloration /leaves a perfect circle/like an eclipse/when there was already/so much dark to choose from/when this happens/I am sure/that the wound is perfect/because it is incomplete/when a wolf/cry wolf/it is vulnerability/laced with fangs/vulnerability/to me/is just a question/of evidence/the proof that what was inflicted/couldn’t finish/the job
Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he has received fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT, and The Watering Hole, and was the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. Julian is the curator of Winter Tangerine Review’s Lineage of Mirrors and is a poetry editor for Freezeray Magazine. He is a cofounder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Nepantla, Rattle Poets Respond, Ninth Letter, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol, and African Voices, among others. He is a candidate for an MFA in Poetry at The University of Mississippi.