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800 Days: Libation

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 20, 2017.
About this Poem 

“For this elegy, my intent was to interrogate trauma through psychic negation coupled with a lack of punctuation. I wanted to look without looking at Black death caged by great violence and breathlessness. It’s a privilege to turn away from news that makes us uncomfortable; however, Ta-Nehisi Coates insists that ‘…all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this.’”
—Tiana Clark

800 Days: Libation

after not wanting to watch “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” on Spike TV

It rained inside me
it is raining inside my neck
the rain falls in sheets inside long sheets inside
all the rain is falling inside collapsing spit
I don’t want to watch another black man die
today or know the story of how he died today
or how he was thrown away or how he ended up
I don’t want to study the rain from inside
the house or overhear wild rain swell & thicken
slap the roof with wet words       & Kalief 
who was there when you stopped
being & who was there when you were alone
& beyond yourself     how
the water around you from the island around you
might have sounded like a chorus    who was there
who was there      who was there  & now everyone
is watching your life from inside but I’m afraid to watch
them beat you    watch torture throbbing dry & long
with ache & blue-black bruising                so I don’t
& another black body is blown out      smoking wick
the lone wisp of a life lingers smelling burnt & gone
how rain wraps round a tornado is a type of sorrow
because no one knows how to fathom damage inside
someone’s eyes could be the weather just after or before
a storm         calm & clear but still bleaker inside the black
parts of the pupils the holes smooth black holes in the eyes
as they left you in the hole with no rain      & I’m emptying
a waterfall shouting                       KALIEF
I want you to be undead & not alone      lonely in the ground  
again     I want I want (the “I” wants so much) how it greeds 
like a fist      of pounding rain on your body bleating broke
but what I want doesn’t matter what I want are rare blossoms
for the dead      because you’re gone & your mother is gone
all because someone said you stole a backpack meaning
your body was made a forgotten altar your body made bodiless
kept pushing back as your trial kept pushing back & back &
black matter moves backwards in time meaning    Kalief matters
in the past tense even though the space around your life didn’t
matter to them   or them   or them    like the space that scatters
& navigates around the circumference of raindrops is never wet
& the braided distance between you & me  is dry & long
like time is rainless with a tight & loaded lungful blowing 800
candles out for the 800 days in solitary your brain behind bars
fades your body in confinement your chest caged alone
your body alone   all    I     hear         is your name falling
& beating    Kalief      Kalief      Kalief Kalief Kalief
this is such a poor offering but I am pouring it on the ground
like good rain & whatever softens the earth is your name
whatever might grow from that darkening bright spot is your name
lapping little lakes of creation turning mud in your name
whatever might be fed from the liquid raining inside me
whatever might be loosened from the muck & the dark
rum pouring from my bottle    & Kalief    your name     is drizzling
a type of grief upon my mouth like mist as it reigns
inside me it is raining inside my body the rain falls in sheets
inside all the rain is untangled & not touching
who touched you with tenderness falling inside   
                                                                                          & Kalief  
what is there to say
after so much rain?

                                  The ground is swollen with your name…

Copyright © 2017 by Tiana Clark. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Tiana Clark. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

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