Negrotizing in Five or How to Write a Black Poem

by Dawn Lundy Martin

Negrotizing in Five or How to Write a Black Poem

Poem By
Dawn Lundy Martin
Supported Works by
Jasmine Murrell
Dachi Cole
Richie Adomako

One: Formlessness.

One enters an unforgiving, inchoate world. No mold to make, fossilizing. Here is the secret: I cannot tell you because it is not known. My fingers obtund with effort. One asks about stuff, con- siders what comes next, is maddened by possibility. Some casti- gating black marks condition the body, soften the skin, open into sepulcher. But the body will not be buried there. It will put down a thing on a page, emancipated [nearly] by the imagination.

"News - Inside and Out" by Richie Adomako

Two: Mutilation.

Hands are scarred, almost dead. You bleed from the knees, ruddy. Feebly scratch out signs including “as if.” You are on the floor. You plead. You make filth. What to bare out? What to pitchfork? You want to be rid of the black. And you want to embrace the black. You write “grandmother” and cross it out. You peel. You acknowledge the pain of peeling. You are hollowing in, coarse carving a sound to resemble that which must be said. You drag your canvas over and finally write with whatever fluid has spilled.

"Cayote Boy" by Dachi Cole

Three: Sing a song that cannot be sung.

A maw. A silence. It wanted to say, I am, but said instead, it was. Noted the skin’s purple hue, fell into longing, thought of what was made and what was done. Went to speak and said, sith sith, and then, mmmoss. Finger pointed at the body and then at the sun, realized nothing and fell again taciturn. There was, too, a craving: a stale remembrance that came a jolting. A hard feeling, a swallowed rock. Wanted to wrench a cavity and pull, expose the stone, as if I could, but could not.

"Rubik Few" by Richie Adomako

Four: I/M/A/G/E

Tell me—I am telling you—the scent of your coming down, breath already at my belly button, easing. Or, the black room of terror that you half-recall, half-invent. Tell me of the exact moment you slashed through your surprisingly tough skin with a pocket knife and how it felt like rain. I want to tell you about the splitting, of a female body—how I squeezed into it—fitting barely, of the texture of melancholy, of a sycophantic love, draw a flicker for you, let you enter as if entering me.

Five: Completion cleaved.

All that has been spoken. All that threatens the legitimacy of that which is attempting to be said. Phonemic struggle—I’ll call it a precursor to blathering. Scintilla. Something dragged in the said. An ocean of debris. In the instants before arrivals some things happened. What is perpetually almost, spilling off its imagined page, signaling an infinite number of openings, leakages, stuck tongues. Blath, said by mistake, and begun again. Bath, said clearly. But, in the end, blath returned more persistently [unofficially], because it was dirty.

"Immortal Uterus" by Jasmine Murrell