by Jordan Starck
Righteous rage delivered me to this world as I am, a Black man.
My living, here, has always been illegal,
and my fight preordained
for an always-later time
when I’ll whisk the blade
away from its hiding place on my wrist.
Then, with just a quick, outward thrust and a slow, intimate twist,
a spoonful of justice shall finally permit the blood
with all the force of my beating heart.
Already I can feel it,
pulsing in my wrist,
pulsing in my grip
on my dripping blade.
The good doctor brings me to consciousness in the Optic White sanitarium,
thinking perhaps that the anesthetics were stronger than they were.
But I remember the fantastical sensations visited upon me during the procedure.
All the pain, the gripping pain and anxiety, the restriction and tension,
were whisked away by a spoonful of justice
and replaced with the sublime
pulsing of life,
pulsing in my wrist,
pulsing in my grip clasping the vivacity given by my dripping blade.
What a glorious day!
But in my doctor’s broken countenance I’m told it’s only a symptom
of phantom limbs,
my nerves stimulating remembrance of courageous intentions
never moved upon.
I was smacked into this world, made to cry to clear the airways.
Then they placed dumps and factories and highways in my lap,
packs of Marlboros, Swishers, & Slims on my shoulder,
and drove officers’ knees deep into my neck.
Now the breeze carries death drifting on the current outside my mask
as the economy piles on demanding sacrifice,
intent on stifling my breathless pleas and
tying me down to corporate breathing machines.
The conditions for receiving treatment read in no uncertain
terms that a respirator will only be provided should
I agree to swallow my voice and contestations
along with each inhalation.
They pass me a pen to cement my compliance,
but I do not forget those first formative memories
of how I came into this world
and learned to breathe
with a scream.
And so I lift up my voice and I rise
And I raise up my voice and I rise
And I scream and I scream and I scream
until heaven rings as a liberty bell,
Trying desperately to bring about a resounding freedom,
and a fuller life,
despite the official caution that I might black out.