& space (dis)odyssey
or ‘yesterday’ & tomorrow
on thursday morning, everything is in a constant
motion: my mood, this brain, that car.
from the front seat, my uber
driver asks me how i am doing.
it’s kind of funny, i say.
& now everything is funny:
this car, my speech,
the weird way his mustache
wiggles when he says, i see, i see.
at a distant stoplight,
i see the ghost
of mother staring back at me.
when it is time,
for the main event —
i am standing on stage
i mean, like, on the stage /
I AM A BLACK MAN /TOTALLY
BLACK/ READING SLAVE SHIT!
to these WHITE FOLK.
kunta frowns & there’s a lash!
there goes ol’ me again
READING THOSE SAME OL’ POEMS ABOUT SPACE! / about black
boys dying / policeman gun in his face. (yes, we know that nigga’s die).
yes, okay, but did you know that
tamir had a gun?
(even in space).
so, uh, YEAH GUYS, my mother (kinda) died
a little while back / (ON A SPACESHIP!)
(that, uh, wasn’t a joke).
guys, you can laugh, you know.
& a final scene from the field
the parishioner stumbles into town; God-drunk,
crucifix on his back, hanging silhouette of a blood-stained
Eve. he speaks to these slaves in tongues; forked,
promises of heaven & damnation spittle from the lip.
i’m here to teach ya’ll niggers about jesus!
about eternal love & pain. about adam &
about eve. i’m here to teach ya’ll about
why jesus put ya’ll on this earth today.
a little black boy drowns in a river. the parishioner
calls it suicide. the slaves know better.
ain’t no way no kid, no smart kid gonna
drown himself in some river. ain’t no way.
THEY FILE A GRIEVANCE!—
(the parishioner doesn’t hear them out).
listen up, niggers! i ain’t listening
to no more grievances on this farm.
i don’t want no more do-gooders, crime
stoppers, ain’t no more learnin’ how to read!
& to all the dumb niggers who want to leave —
this is your home now. ain’t no place like it. (& THEY JUST CAN’T
TAKE IT ANYMORE!)
(dead) mother at death’s door entryway
after “levitation” by Caryl Pagel
her arms spread wide, (never shut)
out of her back, wings spread & grow.
she gives flight (towards me)—
my therapist (reluctantly) recaps my experience.
he says, it’s a common problem. he says, nightmares
happen. he says, she’s dead. every (dead) mother
in the room says (in sync) / we are not.
i stand outside of death’s door
& window. i knock. my fist
smashes against the (nowhere)
door. the dead, like all people,
request an appointment. (we must
be considerate of their needs).
my therapist provides me prozac.
he says, it’s a ghost killer. he says,
the nightmares will stop. every (dead) mother
in the room sneers & laughs.
i hold my mother’s urn, the top sealed (shut).
i place this urn / (my mother) in front of death’s
doorstep. i expect him to take it. (he does not).
Kevin Latimer is a poet and playwright from Cleveland, Ohio. He is a Best New Poets 2018 nominee, and the editor-in-chief of BARNHOUSE. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from FEELINGS, TRACK//FOUR, Sooth Swarm Journal, DIALOGIST, and others.