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Caziah’s Corner: February ’22

Poet’s Note:

Hi everyone!

Welcome to my first piece, Eyes Wide Shut, for Caziah’s Corner

 I’m thankful that you’re reading it!

 I want to talk about ancestry. As I’ve grown, I’ve reflected on how ancestral experiences have shaped my life. My life story has been cut and pasted from past generations, revealing a centuries old collage. I am, and we are, all those who came before us. We are greater than the sum of our parts. Our bodies store ancestral pains, and the guidance needed to overcome them. 

For this piece, I look at how generational trauma must imply a generational joy, and how our ancestors’ pain follows us into the present.

I want us to remember that we’re much more than our collective pain.

Close your eyes.
Picture how your peace feels.
Picture the sound of your sigh of relief.
Picture a lush, green field,
homes made of mud and palm oil,
savannahs that stretch out infinitely.
Picture family structures that suit your gender expression.

Picture a home you’d want to return to,
praying to gods that look like you.
There is no searching.
Rites of passage pass you into adulthood
knowing,
knowing,
knowing,
that home is where the heart is
and your body
is finally familiar.
There is no searching.
There is only home,
where tongues don’t cut on foreign languages,
where intuition is holy,
where living isn’t a burden on your body.
Am I lying to you?
Am I projecting onto a false past?
Grasping for a ghost,
an ancestor that doesn’t
truly guide me.
Are we lying to ourselves with this picture?

No.

Because my ancestors’ smiles are carved onto my face, and their pain is seared into my bones.

Open your eyes.
Recall chains that stretch into a 
horizon flattened future.
This isn’t the kind of weight
that makes you stronger.

This chapter ends with us crumbling,
splinters from wooden ship floors forced into our backs.
Below deck,
Hold hands
because we are chained together.
Hold hands
because Venus has entered the ship captain’s ledger.
Hold hands
because we still have hands.

Picture jumping from the ship’s deck
to find freedom in water filled lungs.
Open your eyes
as wide as you can,
fill them with a sky you aren’t sure you’ll ever see again,
as your vision is blurred
by wood and by water 
you

Close your eyes.
Picture a wide, gray city street city street.
Picture your breath visible as it leaves your mouth.
Picture your Grandma’s apartment building on one side,
and hipster coffee shops on the other.
No number of Biggie Smalls murals can hypnotize you,
but 
I still want you to picture your new home.
Picture cast iron pots full of your favorite food.
Hear a language you aren’t fluent in
but understand intuitively,
and respond in
English.
Hear Grandma saying “Take your durag off when you go outside.”
You say it’s a fashion statement, 
She says it’s a death sentence.
In the end,
we both know
there isn’t really a difference. 

Open your eyes.
Picture June 2020
Black fists
Black masks
Black bodies
Picture knees on football turf
knees on necks
necks 
hung 
from 
business casual,
white society
– I mean – 
high society ties.
These are dark times,
but if love burns brightest in the dark, 
consider us blind.
Consider our skin sick with a permanent fever.
Consider our collective consciences wrapped in 
Black wrapping paper and Black bow ties
because we are the gift that keeps on giving.

Keep your paddy wagons and your slave ships
Because home is where the heart is and you won’t steal ours again.
Home is where the heart is,
but they’ll take your heart if you let them.
So sleep with one eye closed and one eye open.

Just make sure you pick the right one.

Reflection:

This poem, like most of my work, is written with performance in mind, but I think the Open/Close motif still works. The question for you is: How have your family’s experiences trickled down to you? Recognize generational traumas, yes, but what generational joys have been passed down to you despite the world’s chaos?

I hope you enjoyed this piece! I can’t wait to do more.

– Cazi

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