Hooligan Mag Issue #29

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special thanks LAURA STEVENSON EMILY DUBIN CAMONGHNE FELIX JAELANI TURNER-WILLIAMS carina allen sam kirk sarah zumba tamara hijazi


hooligan mag issue #29




There’s a bustling in New York City, the kind that corrals a frenzy of taxi-honking and strangers trekking block to block. In the midst of this, poet and political strategist, Camonghne Felix, has a break from her hectic schedule. In fact, she has relocated to Boston and is working with 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. Felix is also just two months fresh from releasing five years worth of poems into one book, titled Build Yourself a Boat, a guide to survival, even when it feels like you’re bound to go under. Traces of her mother’s voice flow throughout the pace of the book, eventually condensing into one formative letter, asking her daughter not to revise it. With as much conviction over the phone as she has while performing spoken word, Felix is self-assured and wants her audience, specifically black women, to feel the same. For Hooligan Magazine, Camonghne Felix speaks about choosing mentors who don’t question her work, instead facilitating it, watching the Trayvon Martin trial in real time, and her trauma not being cleansed, but realized.

an interview with

Do you feel like your mother has been speaking through you since you’ve been a poet? Do you somehow feel like a vessel? Yeah in a lot of ways, I think this is particularly true for black women, but I think it’s really true for a West Indian woman and Caribbean women and Latina women, who are sort of taught to keep the dirty laundry hidden, and not to ask too many questions, and to not be particularly destructive. I think, when I was a kid my mom never really was able to show me how much pain she felt. My mom is an intellectual, so she was always able to intellectualize it I and always able to sort of articulate it, but was never able to show me what it meant to be in pain or model how to manage that for me. So it was really important that when I started writing poetry; I made sure to use it as an opportunity to humanize my mother and to really empower our relationship through that representation. There’s been numerous incidents of racial profiling since Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012. What was it about his story that made you recall everything so photogenically? When Trayvon was murdered I was one or two years out of high school. Then the year of his trial was when I started my masters program at Bard [College]. I was the only black person in my program, and in the entire discipline. Not just in writing or poetry, but the entire program. I was the youngest writer to ever be admitted to the program and I think also the youngest artist. So, it was an incredibly profound moment for me to be sitting among this ivory tower of affluence, and to have access to this education that technically is not supposed to belong to me. It was particularly unique to be doing that while watching the Trayvon Martin trial. Part of why it was so unique was because I think this is just sort of par for the course when you’re the only of anything, the only black person, the only woman -- I was the only one who was really paying attention to it, and it was really disruptive for me. Whereas the rest of my colleagues in the other students and my cohorts were busy reading up on Anne Carson and the human experience and human theory, I was obsessed with this murder trial. I’ve never been the kind of person who has enjoyed crime stories and I’m not the kind of person who would watch a trial just because it’s happening and it’s going to be widely covered. It had consumed me so much that I was almost, like, angry at the fact that I couldn’t make anything else. A big part of why it’s so resonant for me as somebody who is both the political strategist working in politics and also an artist, is because it informs so much of my civic responsibility. Part of how that happened is by realizing that I was the only person in the room who gave a shit, and carrying the weight of having to do that representation. In the process of doing that representation, I learned that representation is not necessarily the end goal for me and for my work. In some ways it really is about presentation. It’s about presenting the black experience and presenting blackness as not something for people to mourn, but to truly invest in. Trayvon Martin gave birth to that political, philosophical and artistic framework that has really shaped me as a writer and also as an activist and as a professional. Have you seen anything that had sparked your interest? [HBO’s] Random Acts of Flyness, did you get to watch it at all? I did watch Random Acts of Flyness. I’ve been working on this book for the last five years, so a lot of different content and different visuals set into the conversation. I don’t know if I would say that it’s something out specific as Random Acts of Flyness, but just sort of thinking through in general what it means to not just be a black person, but to be a black artist and what it means to create a new world. I think there’s so much art, so much black art in particular, that inspires you to really think through what those new worlds might look like.”

In some ways it really is about presentation. It’s about presenting the black experience and presenting blackness as not something for people to mourn, but to truly invest in.

I know the book is a collection of poems that you’ve done over the years, but when did you mother’s letter come into play? When I was at my masters program, my full-length collection was basically my thesis. I was thinking through this concept of what it means to “build a boat”, about what it means to reimagine survival, and my mom just called me while I was in my studio I was like, “remember how I kept telling you all that I can’t swim?” We started talking and something just told me ‘tell her to write it down’. My mom is a writer but she’s not a writer per se, so she wasn’t gonna sit down and write me a story but she just wrote me an email, in first person addressing me. When she sent it to me, somehow I knew that there would be enough interiority already in there for me to play with and there was so much just in her language in her natural diction and her natural syntax that really lent to the story. I didn’t want to make her letter the thesis necessarily, but I did want to make sure that it bled through my book and pops up in different parts of the experience. I think that’s very much what it means for me to be my mother’s child, where often her influence and her voice pops up in places where I would never have imagined them, or I can’t really articulate. It came in the early part of putting the book together, but she wrote [the letter], it’s all in her voice. I think Build Yourself a Boat was best summed in “Yes, It is Possible” when you mentioned “a great fire muted by holy water”. Do you feel like your past traumas were purified through each piece? I think part of what I am trying to do in my life and what I was trying to do with this book is find a way to name, highlight and even articulate trauma without re-traumatizing the reader or the writer. To purify them would be to erase all of the pain for it, or to douse them only in pain.I think to purify it would be to set it up in a binary.I think what I was interested in is not purifying, but facing it head-on without dictating or without telling the reader exactly how they should read it and how they should feel. But just sort of articulating where I am right now, even, and I think that’s place-making and mark-making, and in highlighting trauma. Giving it legs, giving it a visual, giving it space to breathe, and then also being clear that trauma isn’t the only part of the narrative but pieces of the narrative that also feed the joy. So, less of purifying and more of like scaffolding it, really showing how people turn their trauma into their lives, not necessarily by creating a crutch out of it.

Build Yourself a Boat was released on April 19, 2019 by Haymarket Books. It is available for purchase on haymarketbooks.org

I like how you said you leave it up to your listeners to make their own interpretations. Do you ever have anyone that comes up to you and says “I thought this poem was about this”. Do you ever correct them or do you let them interpret it for themselves? It depends. If we’re in a workshop and the point is to really help the reader, we help them with the reading comprehension and poetic comprehension. If they give an interpretation that I think is harmful to their process then I’ll correct them. For the most part, I really do believe in the integrity of the reader’s experience and I believe in not being in your readers head every single time. I think if we focus too much on trying to tell [the reader] things, you don’t even have room for them to feel. By resisting the urge to correct or to edit, you leave new opportunities for interpretations that can create a whole different narrative for somebody else. While you’re seasoned in spoken word, do you prefer seeing your poems in written form? As a writer and as a reader, it’s important that the integrity of the line and the integrity of the poem is supported by actually understanding how the words look on the page what the line breaks are doing, where they live. I love poetry so much that I want to make sure that it does everything it can do. When you aren’t necessarily invested in the line or in the edit or in the craft there’s so much that you may miss, and so much that you’ve failed to give to your readers. It just makes for a better poem when it lives well on the page and off the page. What made you decide to use concrete poetry? Was that a discussion that you had with your editor? I’m pretty invested in form, I’m super interested in reimagining form and decolonizing form. In general, that’s always been a part of my literary practice; making sure that there’s a visual quality to the literary quality, and that the visual quality has integrity. I don’t necessarily think of the poems as concrete poems. Fundamentally, yeah, totally they are, but the same way a poem ] is linear and has stanzas, the line breaks in that poem are just as important as the line breaks in the poem about the abortion. The line breaks in the Trump poem are there to indicate a sense of impossibility and breathlessness and surrealism, and also a kind of invisibility. I’m interested in making sure that we can get as much fluid meaning in there as what’s practical, and sometimes that means cutting down the words and throwing in something that is more experimental, forcing the reader to flip the page. How do your mentors encourage you or push you to revise your work? Being well-trained and well taught is understanding that the editing process and the revision process is just as important as the actual drafting process. I’ve always felt having a community is really important,and I’ve always felt really loved by my literary community and really taken care of. Just being able to watch them in their practice, watch the way they go through their process, just being able to watch them and ask questions has been more encouraging than any like direct advice that they could give me. What makes 2019 a great time to be a black woman? It’s never a great time to be a black woman. I’ll say that what makes 2019 exciting, possibly, is that publicly we have a stronger sense of solidarity. We know that in some ways we are in this by ourselves, and so being in it by ourselves means leading as if we are doing this alone. In the last five to ten years, we have really been able to see that and understand it in ways that we haven’t before. Just our commitment to each other, both supporting each other in the literary world which not a lot of people want to support black women but black women in that space, I think we are just starting to understand that we’re we all we got. We just can’t do this shit without each other, so I’m just really excited to be in a world where we have a little bit more power than what we’ve had in the past.”

interviewed by RIVKA YEKER

photographed by EMILY DUBIN


laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson laura stevenson

At Riot Fest in 2014, I stood in the space between fest-goers and crowd members while Laura Stevenson played on a stage alarmingly close to a pop-punk band yelling about crushes and beer. As my friends danced and belted out to the sing-along songs of this particular band, my gaze and ears were magnetically pulled to the effervescent sounds coming from the stage to my left, where Laura drifted in and out of calming yet vivacious and powerful melodies. It was one of those special moments when an artist you’ve never listened to before starts shaking your core at a loud festival, and nobody has any idea that you’re in the process of discovering something you’ve always needed. That was two records ago, and my love for Laura’s music has remained undoubtedly alive. When I got a link to listen to her newest album The Big Freeze, I played it over and over again for days, each time wanting it to be longer while simultaneously accepting its perfect length. The record is a shift from her last release Clocksure, which was much poppier and faster and supported by a full band. Each of Laura Stevenson’s records has its own personality, while still embracing the undertones of her project: melancholic, nostalgic, and deeply self-reflective.

I don’t know how to write something that’s not connected to the heart.

Laura and I spoke on the day she got back from touring with her best friends in Antarctigo Vespucci. As she nestled back into her new home in upstate New York, we dove right into the thick of it. I asked her what inspired her to finally write this new record, one so personal and stripped down. She said, “I had been trying to grow more personally and to finally tackle some shit that I’ve been dancing around. This was the beginning of a change, a metamorphosis or something. I want to turn the page and start a new chapter.” There is no better way to move forward than creating a piece of art that relinquishes all of the difficult thoughts, the messy ones that can’t be left locked up anymore. At a certain point, they need to be released. These songs were written over the course of three years, which shows that Laura has been ruminating in this transitional period for a while before finally releasing it to the public. She said, “While the songs are not vibrant, it is a call to arms saying I need to be my own person.” The record could be seen as a physical manifestation of holding herself accountable in that goal, of finally following through on a complicated journey.

The Big Freeze was recorded in Laura’s childhood home, which seems cathartic and somewhat terrifying, to create something so true to oneself in a place that has seen every raw version of you. I asked her what it felt like while recording and writing the record. She told me that she and her co-producer, Joe Rogers, would speak about the songs before she would record, having heart-to-hearts about each song and what they meant to her. She said, “I felt really intense recording and writing it. That was a cool way to work. I appreciate Joe. He’s a wonderful, sensitive person… he’s curious and wants to get me through shit.” The album is a journey of processing and reflects the vigor that went into creating it. Laura said, “It was a purging.” Laura has a handful of songs in her discography about family, childhood, her mother. All intertwined topics, bringing up similar feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and yearning for a specific kind of acknowledgment. We spoke about what it meant to accept our parents’ disappointments and mourn our own expectations from them. She said, “Every musician hears from their parents, ‘you should be a music therapist.’ They want you to be okay. It [playing music] seems like a foolish venture, and in a lot of ways it is, but at the same time I want her to feel a swell of pride.” And who doesn’t? It is all we could ever hope for from our caretakers.

Yet, Laura doesn’t create music with the intention to solely succeed in the business of it. It takes a certain kind of person to continue producing art with the earnest intention of sharing the truth, and impact the people willing to be moved. We spoke about the formula that artists can apply to their songs in order for their music to sell, a scientific approach to gaining listeners. She explained that she’s never made music with that in mind, and has never cared about how many people were listening to her music, just that it was touching people somewhere somehow. Laura revealed, “I don’t know how to write something that’s not connected to the heart.” Not that this surprises anyone, but it is refreshing to hear an artist say that. To admit that their heart is entirely tied to the thing they are giving to people, a connected extension of themselves. When reflecting on her lyrics, Laura’s body of work often embodies a perpetual existential crisis. Curious for myself, I asked what works to let her cope with that. She responded, “Music helps. It puts things in order. It helps me make something that I can’t make into a tangible thing, but, lyrics and melody can. It helps whatever I’m anxious about, [to] put things into perspective. If you’re awake, you’re going to be afraid because this world and life [are] scary.” She repeats the thoughts I have in my brain at all times, and continues “It’s hard to quiet the question what are we doing? But sometimes, embracing it is also really beautiful. Life is so crazy and beautiful and tragic and I don’t know, finite, but also who knows?” We both spiral into another set of eternal, unanswered questions. To lead us back to the surface, I asked Laura what she could say to aspiring singer-songwriters/musicians who aim to be as vulnerable as her. She advised, “Don’t try to write like anybody else.” She elaborated, “You’re constantly learning the most real way to communicate what’s in your heart through sound, which is a really hard thing to do. Whether it’s making beautiful sounds or smashing a keyboard...anything you create is trying to get to the root of communication. Don’t get in your own way.” Laura Stevenson remains to be a voice that changes people. She invites people on a personal journey, and doesn’t ask for them to understand it, but to sit in it, to hear her music transcend thoughts and permeate through feelings. It is a gift to hear the way she carries a room, how she delivers tiny films with each song she shares. In all her modesty, both on record and live, she masters the art of capturing your attention. It is a subtle sort of quality that only works when the person performing believes in every bit of it.



Resident artist at The Chicago Art Department, Sam Kirk, recently had an art exhibit titled “The Alchemy of Us, A Journey of Identity.” The exhibit included paintings, drawings, and even glass highlighting how marginalized identities can be represented in expansive and dynamic ways. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Sam Kirk’s art reflects identity, self-exploration and larger political issues through mediums ranging from mural paintings to mixed media. We sat down to speak about her art, influences and her work’s intention. Sam and I both grew up in Chicago, a specific experience that shapes someone as an artist and person. I asked her what her relationship to the city was and how it has influenced her work. She explained that she has moved all over, which allowed her to hear stories from different communities and people of all identities. Interacting with diverse groups, along with her biracial background, sparked inspiration for her art. Sam began drawing as a child and it slowly became a way not only to communicate with others but to better understand herself and her sexuality. As someone who had a similar relationship with writing growing up, I wanted her to expand on the way art helped her process. She elaborated that she “didn’t have anyone to ask questions to,” so she turned towards her art to look inside herself before actually having a conversation with her family and friends. Sam said, “Art was like a friend for me … a safe space where I could let out all of these [complicated] feelings.” In Sam’s emotional and earnest essay “Open Letter to My Younger Self”, she shared that through her work she developed a deeper understanding of herself and her identities as a queer and Latinx person. Sam wrote the “Open Letter” after working on a mural in Morocco with her girlfriend, an experience she never expected to be hers. The very act of completing this mural and traveling to Morocco was a celebration of her growth, her life, of women, of culture.


“Art was like a friend for me… a safe space where I could let out all of these [complicated] feelings.”

Reading this resonated and lead me to think more about the power of murals as public art forms. With murals being all over Chicago and a normal part of my childhood, I never thought twice about their meaning. When I got older, I realized that every mural told a story, and oftentimes an inherently political one.

Sam explained to me that she got into mural painting because of their public nature. She believed that the topics her art touched upon needed to be seen by the masses, and murals were a method to do so. The people who were coming to see her work in galleries were not the people she was necessarily trying to reach. She said, “being queer and being in Latino communities, you have to turn it [being queer] off and on.” Her art is meant to spark conversations, so that hiding no longer has to be the case for queer Latinx people.

Murals are also a way to showcase that women can be muralists despite it being a male-dominated art form. For Kirk, the act of creating murals in itself helps to change the public understanding of who creates them. Generally speaking, when people think of Latin muralists, their minds may go to people like Diego Rivera or José Montoya. Women have often gone underappreciated in this art form, so Sam continuing to work as a muralist is a way to encourage other women of color to participate in art of mural painting. Public art reflects our current place in history. They allow people to witness a captured moment -- a period interpreted by the artist themselves. As Sam described, we are at a point where it often feels like we have to hide parts of ourselves to be accepted by our own communities. Murals encourage us to reconsider this exclusionary culture in order to cultivate communities where we feel comfortable expressing ourselves entirely without a sense of anxiety or shame. Sam believes that art like this allows marginalized communities to, “showcase who we are.” Art is a way of “showing the different ways we express ourselves...and the different interactions we’ve had growing up.” Her latest exhibit, “The Alchemy of Us”, touches upon how each of our journeys of identity are unique, especially for marginalized groups. Sam expressed that, “people don’t understand what [she’s] been through,” so her art is a way to encourage everyone to talk to one another, acting as a catalyst for both communication and understanding. Speaking with Sam allowed me to reflect on my own relationship to art because her work is more than just representation for queer people of color, it’s about communicating meaning and building inclusive communities. Public art is part of that stepping stone; it is what enables action. It is what encourages us to celebrate our own unique attributes, and teaches us that we are unstoppable and everywhere.


ROAD TRIP by Jerene-Elise Nall

At least the road’s got a shoulder to cry on. Kiss the asphalt, taste its salty black lips. At least this time you held onto the wheel. Jesus, what a near miss. And the traffic sneaking past just whispers shh shh shh.

altar as a metaphor for believing by Sav Robinson

in the museum, a screen holding a man with AIDS and another man with AIDS between his legs talking about God on purpose. yes, there is small-minded suspicion that Gay people are obsessed with themselves, only dating people who look just like them same bodies in same mouths. yes, one could offer this scene as proof. but just this once i want someone to let them both be David: cartilage turned to marble stone, these resting doves look-alike lovers biblical and omnipresent in Florence instead of mortal and dying. I’m watching them talk toward their altar. one David says he’s prayed since he knew how to think. other David doesn’t know if he truly believes in the rumor of the supposed “innocent” power who wants him and his lover dead, but the altar is a metaphor, a spiritual connection that’s always been looming. the camera zooms in on a mantle with enough small miracles for a lifetime, from journeys they’ve taken, together and apart. just this once, before the screen goes black i want to believe that bowing at dawn and dusk has saved them.

#1 by Hunter Price

Tonight I chased the rabbit home Or did it chase me Through the lamp lit streets of names vaguely known Past alleyways of shit and vinegar Alone on a platform in this city of millions Past crossed arms, balled fist, and hard jaws Just afraid of the unknown as us. Cement feeling foreign to our wild literate paws Craving the coolness of wet earth and crisp blue air. Oh but how alive you are. Able to change directions at the slightest noise. Responding And re-responding Stimulus simultaneous out and in Sweaty with life. Fighting. Fight. Fighting. Feet hitting again and again and again This concrete wilderness faking that’s its hiding it’s heart When it’s actually right there On the sleeve of your neighbor More human than you or me, rabbit.

Whispering Pines by Dagmawe Berhanu

there are boys/ from the town I’m from/ who never grow old/ who become boys again before given the chance/ in the city of Columbus/ are gardens with wide fields/ swallow horizons whole/ these gardens are all named after my brothers/ I’m saying I have family all over this city/ where a boy is only ever a boy/ or a thing/ or a corpse/ the day after Trayvon Martin died/ I wore my hoodie up the whole walk from school/ not in any act of defiance or ostentation/ but because it was cold/ and I didn’t know yet I’d need a better reason/ when the cop slowed up behind me/ I was a block from home/ but I could tell he didn’t believe me/ when he asked why I was even there/ I just froze/ stiff & inanimate/ told myself I was playing dead/ because I didn’t want to admit/ every boy’s name/ that lives on the edge of my tongue/ is a priest’s eulogy/ this cop doesn’t see me as a boy/ I can tell from his eyes/ dilated and seizing/ his right hand never leaving his hip/ whatever he’s ready for/ I can feel in my 15 year old bones/ and I want nothing more in that moment/ than to be another flower/ in a sea of other flowers/ where if we’re stepped on/we’ll find ourselves laying against a brother / when he said I was free to go/ I could feel my feet uproot from the cement/ this kinship/ sewn in stillness / is a pact I wish on no one/ in the town I’m from/ I got homies been gone so long/ they got moss growing on they tombstones/ and grass blocking they name/ I’m saying I took a seed and named it after you/ I’m saying I watched it sprout and bloom until it grew roots/ and branches/ and was strong enough for me to lean on/ I counted all the leaves/ I did prayer under the shade/ if nostalgia isn’t strong enough for reanimation/ let the grief at least hold purpose/now all my niggas got my back/ now I always keep my hood on

portrait of my mother as a tree - by Abhi Shrestha

at home i see my grandma’s roots dig deep into my mother’s back cherries blossomed into my mother’s face flush on the banks of a sister river reticent to touch, but confident to growl oh, how my mother loves with hands covered in flower in years to come our home outgrew my mother branches that used to burst through our window now confined to the kitchen her roots weakened in my absence as i forgot to call to quench her love it hadn’t rained in days wrinkles reflected as shadows when i finally went back home i walked through the corridors of my childhood and noticed shriveled roots that used to swell up in the rain rooted into the kitchen tiles oh, how my mother loves. with steam that smells of flour in the kitchen i take one bite of her aloo thama and pull a long strand of my mother’s hair and at the end there is a note it says “khesa ho beta” and i look up at my mother’s face and she is a kaleidoscope of leaves as it finally begins to rain

Edginess by Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah

The cloudstreet hums, walls vibrate, the district floats. Rooms are filled with sea currents, sickly smile covers the flood. Every part of life is floating, everything shadow crosses the rough strip and every house built with the sun loses its material, loses its weight, everything is brought by hunger, exhaustion, and genial compassion as the large debt, nothing seems to escape shadows following the shape of things to come. It is time past thirty years and we lie awake, predicting forthcoming changes, everything through the blur of the water, everything remains flatulent. Coming its way, a ray of moonlight without shedding itself, everything looking like a urine sample in a faraway land in warmth and decency.

Jealous Nature by Caits Meissner

I: imagine: the hardlocked winter: myself: a crisp line who never skips nor breaks. But even my own image is a threat. I: admit: it shifts. Ages. Ruins. I: look first at the eyes of a woman, always. Then, to the parts that ring with sex, beckon men indiscriminate as the crow who pecks at his cousin’s carcass, then lowers to mount its stiff shape, swollen towards procreation, confused by the scientist’s planted stimuli, the stuffed bird a test, a trap—I snap. Can I? See how far this pain can travel? Test the temperature of quiet, trust the rupture of flames, nudge forward the inevitable burst. Then the waning fever, gentle touch of lips. I: cadaver: alive: a tough slab of meat well kept: frozen. Cruelty: a divine instrument, the blunt tool I use to carve myself free.

The Joy Stays Flesh by Marisa Ferreira

Hook a cloud to my back Swing me across the world I’m a Divine Archangel Pigeon Between Heaven and the Train Platform Almos Almost There Never at my destination Where my Wings Are tied to Bone Without plastic straps Ghost glue oozing Out with my wing expanse Whether Shot Up Above The Sky Or Sent Back Beneath The Ground The Joy Stays Flesh

for Ginger Ale by Raych Jackson

When my stomach protested, my momma would bring ginger ale. Without ice in the cup, she’d pray over bubbling ginger ale. It’s the medicine & the communion. The lone drink & the chaser. You’re balanced on that high-string ginger ale. The only pop with a cure. Stir it with dark liquor. Lose track of how much I am drinking with ginger ale. Everyone around me is dying. Some on purpose, the rest in scattered jolts. I need to mix you with something ginger ale. Protect me from the hangover & when I’m sorry enough, food. Tell my friends I ate earlier. My burp rings out ginger ale. Settle & fill my belly for days. Where have you been? Alive, sad, home with an upset stomach spewing ginger ale.

The Dog Represents My Inability to Accept That I Am Deserving of Love by Jessie Keary

I nearly bit my fingers, holding pizza crust — the animal within. I dreamt of spiders in my sheets. Then, snakes.

Hm, Doc said. The animals are getting bigger. I’ve been wondering what she meant for a year and a half. Last night, I dreamt of a foot-long house centipede. He could breathe underwater and curled up lovingly on my pillow. He morphed into a cocker spaniel. The cocker spaniel needed to go out. I told him not to come back.

A Lineage of Tar Slappers by Echo Clark

I have been told that there are some men, Stoic paternal figures, who can’t recount time spent killing and dying in war without welling up With tender regret, tears My mother never held a gun But many things made her Erupt and flood, a volcano of a child in a grown woman’s body Her small bare feet slapping cement on the few days she went To school, being a black girl, as I’ve come to understand it is a war of its own Someday I will sit on the edge of my child’s bed telling them about my time spent Wearing knockoff shoes to school Climbing fences Running barefoot in the streets of Las Vegas, Playing two-hand-touch football Until the orange lights Came on overhead And we knew it was night And I will not cry when I tell them about it, Not once