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Self Portrait with NeoNazi Demonstration

By Lauren K. Alleyne

-- Leipzig, Germany 4/20/15

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 Gonz├ílez for his generosity and discernment as the contest judge.
Lauren K. Alleyne
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths.

Lauren K. Alleyne is the author of two collections of poetry, Difficult Fruit (Peepal Tree Press 2014), and Honeyfish (New Issues & Peepal Tree, 2019). Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, The Atlantic, Ms. Muse, among others. Her most recent honors include a 2020 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Poetry, and the longlist for the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. She is currently the assistant director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and an associate professor of English at James Madison University.

Other poems by this author