Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 2



Reggie Edmonds


There is a dead bird in the lake and nobody cares because it is a beautiful day

[insert metaphor about Negroes and drowning and lungs]
[insert analogy about god, or waiting, or absence]

the lake is less of a lake
and more of a graveyard

[insert story about the last time they found a nigga, tarred and feathered, floating face down in a body of water]
[insert intelligent quip about the scarlet legacy of America dripping from its fingers, hot and sticky]
 

history has a way of hiding in plain sight
while the whiteness of the world continues on without it

[insert something more tangible. a gun. A knife. Tears hot enough to burn trackways into
your cheeks]
[insert a grief that’s so palpable, you swear you’d could touch it too]

nobody sees the world
dying but I do.

[insert a mourning so loud it shook the moon away]
[insert the scream the felled the stars from the sky]

did you know the weather
is a white supremacist?

[insert a bloodless death.]
[insert the cloud’s winged silence]

the sun only shines in the ghetto
when there’s a funeral for it to attend.

[insert 2 white women and a white dog enjoying the weather]
[insert a dead bird, feathers and blood still dripping from Fluffy’s teeth]




Saltwater Prophecy

The sea is a vengeful spirit. I know because I have sat on every beach and heard it whisper of blood and forced migration. There is a bad omen on the wind. Typhoons speak of rage. Hurricanes speak of conquest throwing children overboard. When the Atlantic spills herself into the Blackest parts of the South. It is no act of God. It is not a natural disaster. It is a lineage of violence emerging from the depths that drowns my people. It is a legacy of neglect that bursts the levees. Only a graveyard could whip up a storm with that much death swelling the tide past its boundary. Believe me:

The ocean came to finish what America started.



⧫⧫⧫

Where do I return to if not the ocean?

My country drowned home out of vocabulary and made a beach of my mouth. My tongue is too heavy to float in this language.

Where do I return to if not to the salt and sand?

When everything starts to erode away, you get to the root of grief. For instance, my mother will cry if you ask her about her mother; or this country will riot when you ask it about who it truly believes in.

We crossed an ocean of blood, so Death must return to the Atlantic. Dead bodies do not return home, so ancestors do not undrown or uncrowd a slave ship.

The ocean is not vengeful, it is obedient.

America said open your mouth, and it swallowed a country’s worth of ghosts. I asked it to show me its dead, and the currents turned to blood.

Where do I return to if not to all that has failed to kill us?

My lungs swallowed the ocean and I did not die. I coughed up every body lost to the tide and did not find home buried in the sand. Home is whatever calls me back to everything I have lost while drowning.

Everything that tries to hold me becomes water, even my mother’s hands. Her voice cresting, my body breaking, when she tells me I was made to float.




My Grandmother Makes Catfish for Dinner

             I watch as she prepares it for dinner
Slides the blade across the belly of the fish
             She, a woman gutted like a fish
knows how to spill the blood quietly.
             I too know how to spill blood quietly
Sometimes I am the fish and sometimes the blade
             Sometimes I am gasping and sometimes the blade
is a man with his hands around my throat
             There is a man with his hands around my throat.
all I can feel is the pain of his teeth
             At the table we don't talk about his teeth
we all know how to vanish in a mans mouth
             So we save ourselves by choking a man's mouth
With the catfish that grandma makes for dinner



Reggie Edmonds: “I am a poet, educator, and cultural curator based out of Richmond, CA.”




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