& 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).  

HAHA!

 

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!)

 

/a/fourteen/year/old/slave/runs/away/from/home/

/the/sound/of/yelping/hounds/beating/eardrums/

/bondage/on/her/neck/the/parishioner/sings/a/hymn/

/eve/grabs/that/apple/the/farm/bursts/up/in/flames/

(dead) mother at death’s door entryway

after “levitation” by Caryl Pagel

i.  

my mother,   

standing at  

my doorstep;   

her hands  

are level 

with mine.

 

my mother 

stands out 

side my 

bedroom

 

her arms spread wide, (never shut)  

out of her back, wings spread & grow.  

she gives flight (towards me)—

 

my mother  

peers inside  

my window;  

her body  

on loan  

from God.

 

ii. 

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.

 

iii.  

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).

 

iv.  

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.

 

v.   

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.

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