Imal, direct action protest visible from satellite is time travel, is binge-watching the future. Your optic nerves can reach where no lung has emptied, and speak back with authority, so what is the meaning of witness? Imal, when I see your lover’s face, I am seeing what it has become, in spite of you, and everyone. And what does he see?
As an adolescent, I buried my face in another boy’s crotch and was disciplined for it—so I did it again. I wanted something that would be mine and mine alone before I gave it to another, so, I did it again. What about you? What orchards have you marauded because the sun is too far to notice fences? What family holds you father-shamed?
Imal, I could show you how each face equals zero at some point, some calculation, but for now, trust me. Everyone is a sundial, despite what we know about their limitations. In Ashland Penitentiary, because the Warden couldn’t understand my words, I carved them on the cement for him to practice, and the wall would become glass, for a moment, for anyone with a smile. I opened men and forsythias carpeted the penitentiary floor, cell-to-chow, even for the solitary, especially for the COs. I was a Witch-King, and every other faggot was a keloid untwisted into a flat field.
Being held in the past falls short of seasonal depression, but no less deserving of its own month of awareness. Look out the window. I’m under the lemon tree you planted in winter, when every almanac blurred pages at the thought, and look; a fistful of prickly bark and fresh yellow, like the underside of something you dreamed of before you could know.
Added: Monday, February 4, 2019 / Used with Permission. Leslie McIntosh’s poem was awarded Second Place in the 2019 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest. Franny Choi lent her generous acumen as judge for the contest.
Leslie McIntosh is a poet, performer, educator, and mental health professional living in Jersey City, NJ. Leslie has participated in workshops at Callaloo and Cave Canem, and has been a fellow of the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University and The Watering Hole. Leslie's work can be found in Beloit Poetry Journal and Pittsburgh Poetry Review.