Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 3



Reggie Edmonds


On Faith

I.

if i don't have faith:
i have fists i have bone break violence i have blood fingered nails a claw a hook an unhappening of a vein the red poured out on the concrete the pain the pain the pain the pain the searing the fire the water the bodies left to drown in the dirt the maggots’ swarm the delicious rot of skin sagging over dead muscle and tired bones so white it makes the mourning worth listening to grief a troublesome thief i cry over my own corpse i cry for the body next to it i cry for the dirt and the death it carries for all the ghosts surrounded by their own unmaking for all the black boys surrounded by a familiar haunting for all the blood that knows the blade that spilled it

 

II.

if black boys are not magic
why are we so good
at disappearing?
i believe now, i really do
i think a part of me always has
i know that i will die
before the trick is over
i'll fill with maggots
before the curtains close
but damn, what a house
the magician has made me!
my home made of cloth
wide brimmed and trimmed neat
big enough to fit any corpse
he's left to rot in the dark

listen here children
the trick is simple
close your eyes
count to three
believe in something
anything
as long as it's not me

 

III.

it does not take much

to believe in something

this I know from experience,

i think faith

in this way

is completely useless

it is easy to fall for anything

the magician’s trick is

to see him pull a ghost from the hat

a rabbit

a living thing

mistaken for faith

for something worth keeping

worth holding on to

 

IV.

so the magician keeps
pulling the same
dead rabbit
out of the same
tired hat
and all the children are crying
except for the black boys
do it again
do it again, it can't be dead

denial grabs at a young neck
before grief can crawl from its throat
and continue a lineage of decay
by building a home for the worms
out of brittle bone and rotting flesh

 

V.

if  i don't have faith:
i have fists i have bone break violence i have blood fingered nails a claw a hook an unhappening of a vein the red poured out on the concrete the pain the pain the pain the pain the searing the fire the water the bodies left to drown in the dirt the maggots’ swarm the delicious rot of skin sagging over dead muscle and tired bones so white it makes the mourning worth listening to grief a troublesome thief i cry over my own corpse i cry for the body next to it i cry for the dirt and the death it carries for all the ghosts surrounded by their own unmaking for all the black boys surrounded by a familiar haunting for all the blood that knows the blade that spilled it

 

VI.

so this faith thing has gotten

a little complicated

what’s with the rabbit

it doesn't matter

what's that supposed to mean

it doesn't matter

nothing, in fact, matters

when you are staring

down the barrel of a gun

there is no god

that will take a bullet for you

how many times

must the rabbit vanish

for someone to notice its absence

how many crowds will applause for the disappearing

rabbits and tricks

and gods and men

are all the same to me

i'll stuff the magician

inside his own hat

if i have to

if i have faith

it is only in myself

if i have a god

i'll kill him with my own two hands

i'll bury him in his own dirt




Queer As In...

Ghost
As in everybody's favorite song
Is the black boy
Dying for another black boy's love
Love as in mirror
As in a black boy's reflection never loves him back.
Reflection as in trick of the light
Light as in his fading smile
Smile as in joy
Joy as in ghost
Ghost as in queer
As in he disappears before anyone knows the black boy's name
Black as in nameless
As in identity is given before it is accepted
As in mother named him son before he could name himself
Son as in star
As in burning
As in queer black boy running out of fuel
Running as in away from here
As in to anywhere better
Better as in queer black boy is a resurrection
Resurrection as in holy
As in messiah
Messiah as in promised
As in I promise we are our own saviors




Roadkill Examination

Its head is separated from the body in a way that reminds me of a popped blackhead that I wish would have stayed unpopped instead of bursting across the glass of the unwashed bathroom mirror. What I mean is: Ouch. what a terrible way to die.

I saw a rat pour out its entrails on 17th st and I swear God became a broken heart that stopped beating all of a sudden. And not a cardiac arrest kinda peace but with all the violence of rush hour traffic. The road crumbles and snaps bone and like bone and buzzards scream much like brakes grinding against axel against wheel against road against flesh and then the road again, only a bit slicker than the last time. Nobody knows where Death comes from, but everyone sees the trail of viscera left behind and knows exactly where he had gone.

Somewhere in the distance, A pair of headlights will disappear in the fog. But the blood remains. The blood remembers. The blood will appreciate the worms that hold Death accountable to the dirt. Decay is a reminder that even the worst things will leave. Even concrete will break apart until it becomes a soft bed of earth.

So what if we water the sidewalk with our innards? Who cares if we hollow out our bellies in the streets? Everything that empties itself must be filled again. Even if it is with maggots. I could die and birth a thousand flies. I could live and learn to swat them. But there is always the buzzing. Always something trying to make noise.

Be quiet! I am trying to think. About anything other than all the bodies in the street. I am trying to forget about the dead but I keep thinking about how the rat’s tongue hung limp out its mouth like it died trying to taste something like freedom.


Reggie Edmonds: "I am a queer writer, performer, educator, organizer and Certified Badass™ based out of Richmond, California. I currently curate the Rich Oak Alchemy Slam and the Oakland Poetry Slam and Wide Open Mic in Oakland, California. My poetry is a map of intersections that leads to somewhere better than here."




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