Jamilla Bailey killed it last night with a daringly personal body of work. It touched on several trigger warning-style subjects that normally I might step around in this type of poem because it's hard to make them work when you draw so many random ideas from the open mic. The poems can go from police violence in one step then move to unicorns with eye lasers in another. However, Jamilla's strong presence gave me more reason to try and tackle it head on. Thanks to her and everyone else on the mic that night for giving me that challenge.
There's always a righteous
behind every said pair of eyes,
a holocaust of clipped green behind
the birth of an American Beauty rose.
Behind every Godzilla is a turtle or octopus
who just wanted a warm place to sleep.
Behind every cinder pile of esteem
a marble frown feigns confidence.
Behind every known murderer
is a more guilty poet.
Behind every suicide note
is a poem never read in public.
Behind every month of history
is a century of buried knowledge.
Each new manifesto of the people
hides a mountain of discarded research.
Behind someone following a leader
is someone who was never asked.
Behind every white resident in Cambridge
is a black poet's song that made them want to stay.
Behind every quiet, proud family
is a crime they always need to quell.
Every headline that screams What happened?
hides the smaller font saying What didn't?
Every word the black girl shines
in front of the microphone
illuminates abandoned lotteries
rigged by everyone she knew.
On her black skin are wounds
they pretend are covered.
On her Facebook they pretend
that people can't read.
In the face of a sun they still act
like they're under shadow,
ants scrambling like sharks,
nothing to consume.
Special thanks to Julia Vogel, Jaime, Chernoch, Johnathon Larkey, Ryan "Rat" Travis, Ethan Mackler, Stephen Smith, Dexter Roberts, Mark Lipman, Marlon Forrester, Toni Bee, Bill Lewis, Jamilla Bailey and James Van Looy.