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If we wake from stupor
hung over from concocted toxins
we owe it to tell what we wish we’d known

to boys in the hood
who become

men in the hood

manhood-
what is man? where is hood? where is man? what is hood?

and what behind such violent or silent fear might we be hiding?

what is manhood, if not
personhood
snatched and attacked, detached like chains and
purses in the hood
what persons in the hood

“no persons in the hood”.
persons left for dead
dead left for good

Black girls missing in the hood
trafficked and enslaved
abused, beaten, maimed, murdered in the hood

and us all too quiet on this subject
sitting quietly like the system, unmoved by acid rains, cocktail of sweat and tears
Afraid to fear, for fear of being found out feeling
complaining about The Man, but wanting to be that, the kitchen as a colony and the bedroom the bowel of a sinking ship
an unwilling cargo, unfair exchange, bodies stacked in taught position

will we trade manhood, for embrace, for personhood
will we divorce from this White, European gender matrix to which we cling so tightly, clothing us so loosely

survivors speaking choked out truths through compounded stages of grief
how can we doubt the very deeds we’ve done,
how can we deny the simple solidarity of our belief?
will we abandon doubt and embrace us

realizing that the tears of those who died crying for us have all but dried up in once rich black fertile soil, once soaked with love

little boys unloved learn the posture of a poorly performed poise
muscles clinched and by now stiff, the learned look of tough
all to keep from wildly shaking, but still quivering, nails digging down into the calloused palms of our own hands,

scared we must unfold and let someone hold it, and us
clothed in ‘activism’, running stale lines through an old megaphone,
what a weakness cloaked, wrapped neatly in the performance of a still bravado, unbrave
nevertheless drenched in the blood of lovers and loved ones alive we’ve left to die alone

hard to doubt a drought
the chap of parch so mercilessly cuts through lying lips
the raspy timbres of that crackling first-of-morning articulation after so long a slumber, the vinyl-esque, crunchy undertones of our voices all too quiet tell of a voice relearning now how to speak
how to say her name

realizing the quiet of the voices we’ve silenced
realizing the hum of rooms hollowed out by self-hatred and abandonment and emotional unavailability and the disparate division of heavy labour

realizing

Silenced voices can’t defend us.
Silenced voices don’t amplify ours.
Voices silenced only tell our shame
with every fading echo of lost breath.

it is not this part of passion oft lauded when one says
“you, you take my breath away”.

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