Just like that the day is black
and blue, bruised with hate.
Just like that my skin, black
as fine leather stretches so tight
I might tear into bright black
ribbons. See the flag-- spent
and flaccid-- the windless black,
red and gold clutched in a fist
that I fear will name my black
face dirt, and land. And so, just
like that plans fade to black—
a sunlit walk home folds flat
into a taxi’s steel skin, the black
seat holding my body upright.
See the street draped in black
uniforms, the shrill blue shout
of sirens, the march of black-
draped demonstrators, faces set
toward the sun in rows of black
sunglasses. I want to shoot
something, to become a black
grizzly and claw someone’s throat:
what I mean is I want to be black
and brave, but today, I am not.
Just like that.
Added: Monday, February 1, 2016 / Lauren K. Alleyne's poem was awarded first prize in the 2016 Split This Rock Annual Poetry Contest. We thank Rigoberto González for his generosity and discernment as the contest judge.
Lauren K. Alleyne is the author of Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press, 2014). Alleyne’s fiction, non-fiction, interviews, and poetry have been widely published in journals and anthologies such as Women’s Studies Quarterly, Guernica, The Caribbean Writer, Black Arts Quarterly, The Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, Gathering Ground, and Growing Up Girl, among others. Her work has earned several honors and awards, most recently the Picador Guest Professorship in Literature at the University of Leipzig, Germany, a 2014 Iowa Arts Council Fellowship, and first place in the 2016 Split This Rock Poetry Contest. She is a Cave Canem graduate, and is originally from Trinidad and Tobago. Alleyne is currently the assistant director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, and an associate professor of English at James Madison University.