This work was featured in Issue 18:2, Spring 2017 — Cave Canem 20th Anniversary Issue

T'ai Freedom Ford

Three Poems

either way, you’ll be in a pool of something

swimming: where even the kisses smell like
doom waiting baiting your breath in fishnet
wading in a capful of rainfall so small
pinky toes cause capsize meaning you tiny
like bullet like pellet like capsules of happy
the shrink worked a bygone blink & look! you
singing some sappy lovesong brink of backstroke
such leisure this life sans seizure & lurch
boys in blue birds way they perch way they shit
on us & say it’s rain send our mamas humming
random hymns & why couldn’t we swim? our brown
bodies & chlorine water making a warm funky tea
a contagious soup black limbs flailing with so much joy

 

the pornography store is closed so you will have to make your own death

turn off the news—unless the news turns you on
all that flesh & blood blacking up the screen mute
button scream police ticker tape parade quiet
riot in these streets or, is it all a graveyard of boulevards
walking dead zombie apocalypse ain’t got shit on us
turn off the news—unless the news is your turn-up
niggerskin glistening & confettied like dismal disco balls
we the latest dance craze: the whip the playdead the chokehold
the taser cousin to electric boogaloo but less animated
this dying like lynching but less antiquated blood
the new black turn off the news—but fuck radio bleeding too
just more metaphor karma pharmaceutical the needle
you need a shot in the arm that dope shit

 

what i risk to walk in this world as my full human self

spotting full on bloodletting wearing white off
white teeth flinching at the sight of rice kitchen
those shadowy curls at the nape what only
a black girl know humidity at the risk
of sounding stupid sanctuary mud
in the forecast scam: blackface pocketful
of wild turkey monkey on my back throat
way the words curdle & return call forth
& mimic symmetry wine watered down
to something syrupy strawberry red
a familiar kool-aid dance panic boogey
resurrect body non-cooperative
but body nonetheless just lesser & more black

 

t’ai freedom ford is a New York City high school English teacher and Cave Canem Fellow. Her poetry has appeared in Drunken Boat, Sinister Wisdom, The African American Review,Poetry and the anthology The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. In 2012 and 2013, she completed two multi-city tours as a part of a queer women of color literary salon, The Revival. Ford was born in Washington DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her website: shesaidword.com.