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Our Movable Mecca

By Danez Smith

           after Allen Ginsberg          
written as part of the 2016 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100 Summit

           we who were born into conundrum, came into the world as the world was leaving, children of the ozone, the oppressed, the overlooked, of obtuse greed, of oil overlords, of oblong definitions of justice

           who asked for water & were given a border, a wall in the ocean, a wall in the air, a wall right down the middle of our bodies, bodies left to sun dry, bodies told they were barely bodies, bodies emptied of blood & rights, bodies whispered into rumor

           who were hungry & were given a cell to hunger in & sometimes saw our own flesh transfigured into prisons, running in circles trying to escape ourselves

           who drowned our children as a last act of love, giving them over to a better world, gifting them away from this land of chain & drought & lawless law, land that attempts to unmother our mothers, steal us away like we were never here

           who were named in the wrong language, told our language was not knowledge, told our knowledge was not genius, told our genius was a disorder, told our order lacked logic, told our logic was brainless, told our brain was dead, told our dead was not ours, told ours was not right, told our rights were not ours, told ours was a foul brood for fear of what happens when we gather

           we who gather, gather around corners & tables & ourselves, gather around smoke & drank & broken bread, gather around fire & fire & questions, who know this world is not the world we deserve, who harvest the fruit of an alternate now, the adjacent possible, the should be here, the why the fuck not, the what we owed, the duh, the need, the gift of better we know is ours

           we who citizens of our own funk, who know immigrant means family late to the feast, who know ain’t nobody free until we all free, who know shouldn’t be no price on a good life, who dream while waking, dream with our hands

          we who build a temple of doors, a church of windows & roads, who say “my body is not a catalog of wreckage, my body is a portal to tomorrow," who call on the power of ancestors past and ancestors not yet born, now call forward every god in us to plant our new seeds

our moveable mecca

where our bodies are the buildings

our land of fresh water & empathy

where there is enough of enough

we erase what does not serve us

we promise annihilation to what fails us

we know fire is both destroyer & mother

we know change is not concept but necessity

we remember hope

we are hope

we are ritual

we are the narrative

we are the song

we sing ourselves into royalty

we have no time to explain how we matter

we are worth worthiness

we need no permission but our own

we ain’t scared of shit

we only fear silence

we know god is a verb

we holy ourselves

we pray by moving

we make heaven wherever we stand

each breath we take

future get realer

we refuse to wait

we revolt against stillness

we dance on the old world’s grave

we bury the way it was

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are our own mecca

we are the first brick thrown

last brick in our new home

we are our own wish

our own promise

our own throne

Added: Thursday, January 19, 2017  /  Used with permission. Part of a special January 20, 2017 Poem of the Week collection featuring six poems in conversation with the 2017 Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump.
Danez Smith
Photo by Hieu Minh Nguyen.

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of Homie (Graywolf Press, 2020), Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez's work has been featured widely including on Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, the 2020 Pushcart Prize Anthology, on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.

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