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Poetry Summer 2020

Someone Told Me Once the Philly Pride Flag is “Aesthetically Displeasing”

by Darnell Carson

Darnell Carson performing his poem “Someone Told Me Once…”
My body has never felt like anything
          but target practice,
          but bug under microscope,
          but porch light to every moth of a man
that’s ever mouthed a slur in the silence,
that’s ever parted his lips to show the venom frothing underneath,
that’s ever lifted his voice to the song of my destruction,
          be it of  my black or my queer,
          hate finds no difference in the tune.

If my body be a home, it has never been a safe one.
I have never been good at sharing space with my trauma.

My mind be a mess I am never able to manage:
          one bedroom and crammed floor plan.
          all walls and no windows to let the light in.
          sink piling with dishes I don’t have  the energy to clean.

This body code-switches for survival,
knows that it is only as safe as I am invisible,
spends each day deciding how to make itself absent,
if it will bury the Blackness for the white gays
or quiet the queer in front of family

The issue with intersectionality 
is that every road leads to a dead end.
You are always too much or not enough for anybody —
always a threat to someone else’s ignorance.
always a silhouette someone is scared to pass on the sidewalk

There are no safe spaces for brown rainbows
so I have learned to make them

in the palm          of my partner’s hand
at the sight         of my sister’s smile
at the base          of my friends’ laughter
a billion          good things          in the sound of their voices

Like maybe the whole world has gone to shit, 
and every night I make it through is a bittersweet blessing,
and every morning comes with a million things
          still trying to kill me, 

I know I still have this:
The warm glow of a candle lit on my partner’s altar.
The way he whispers my name like the strongest prayer he knows.
The way the silence settles on us like a blanket,
every affirmation I could ask for held in the weight of his stare.

How queer it is
for pain and joy to coexist in this body.
for my mind to find nothing but peace.

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