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The Book of Silence

By Rasheed Copeland

We learned
from the book
of our fathers’ silence
how to speak
of young girls
in the way
old white men
speak of game
they’ve hunted
and mounted
on trophy walls.
The same book
that taught us
how to make
young girls
fake orgasms
and mourn their lost
while handling
little boy pride
with the delicacy
it requires.

This book,
void of chapters
on love,
on how to listen
to her skin’s soliloquy,
and on how to treat such
sacred treaty
of body and soul
less like a pillaging
and more like a litany
worth protecting,
is the book
from which I learned
how to both
break and be broken
without even knowing.

Added: Friday, September 16, 2016  /  Used with permission.
Rasheed Copeland
Photo by Naji Copeland

Rasheed Copeland is a native of Washington, DC. He is the author of The Book of Silence: Manhood As a Pseudoscience (Sergeant Press, 2015) and is a recipient of a 2016 and 2017 DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities Fellowship Award. He placed 2nd in the world at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam. He is currently studying English at the undergraduate level at Howard University. His work has been featured in online publications such as The Quarry and Public Pool. He has performed across the country and has been featured locally at renowned venues such as the Howard Theatre and the Lincoln Theatre.

Other poems by this author