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“Men”

If we wake from stupor toxic
we owe it, we must tell what we wish
we’d known

you see

boys in the hood
men in the hood
hood-in-the-man
what is man? what is hood?

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

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

Black girls missing
Black girls trafficked and enslaved
Black women abused, beaten, maimed, murdered

Black men all too quiet on this subject
Black men sitting quietly like the system, unmoved by tears
Afraid of fear or being found out feeling
Black men complaining about The Man, but doing his bidding at home, the kitchen as a colony and the bedroom as the bowel of a sinking ship
an unwilling cargo, an unfair exchange

When will Black men abandon manhood and embrace personhood
When will we divorce from this White gender we wear so tightly

Survivors speaking choked out truths through compounded stages of grief
How can we doubt her, when we’ve done these deeds,
How can we deny her the simple solidarity of our belief?
When we will abandon doubt and embrace us

realizing that the tears of those who died crying for us have all but dried up in 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, scared and quivering
clothed in ‘activism’, running stale lines through her old megaphone,
what a weakness cloaked, wrapped neatly in the performance of a still bravado, unbrave
nevertheless drenched in the blood of lovers 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 Black men 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

realizing

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

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