"Poetry for the People": Reading Garveyism through Poetry

Diaspora and Continent

by Jessica Covil Listen

I have so wanted to call you kin
that I would swear we spoke the same language
mother tongue
like it wasn't torn from my mouth
and stuffed down my throat
so that now
I'm not sure how to call you.

I would gladly
trade blood for vows
if that's what it takes to know you
and be known
to be seen as something more than
captive animal.

Sometimes I just want to
shout at you
to stretch out my hands
and shake you a little,
to call you by every name I can think of
until you answer

Brother, I am calling out to you
Sister, I am stretching out to you
Lover, I feel your shackled body as my own

And if it's the dark you're afraid of
I'll fight off the monsters myself
while you lie sleeping.
I have cried for your blindness.

--how else to explain
your selling me
for a coat of many colors
that turned out to be

But I am still looking
for that coat of many colors
still looking
for the rainbow

hoping that

you're at the end of it.




I know nothing but your slave name

yet you call me brother.

You call me sister, too

when you cry out to me
in all your wealth and splendor
pretending to be devastated.


See, your place looks nice from here.

I'm elbow-deep in the dirt you'd kiss

as soon as your ship has landed.

I'd have met you at your place

but I could never afford the trip.

How many years has it been?

and you come now looking for the rainbow
when we got nothing we were promised.

The thing that gets me is:

you have such a taste for romance

but the only thing you're married to

is this vision of me
drenched in darkness
like I am the one enveloped by the sea
like you are not the drowning
dying for air.
Tell me,
how can you reach me
from the bottom of the ocean?

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