by Calen Firedancing

the password to grandma’s computer
            is hatred and her year of birth

hatred of the way sweat glimmers
            on large black foreheads
a reminder of cotton and the way blood runs
            from thorns to the flat hair on arms

of dehydration settled on the skin
            white as ash
of men and marriage and men and marriage
            fleeing West from Oklahoma
of hair knotted and breaking like ships in storm
            carrying men to be slaves

of that same hair receding up the head
            making the sweat shine higher

of women where men and marriage were not
            and of beatings from women
and of men and silence
            of the violations that do not speak

of old age
            her scars becoming her skin
of still being marked
            by it all

Calen Firedancing is a black queer poet, filmmaker, and undergraduate student at Williams College, majoring in English and Africana Studies. Originally born in Los Angeles, Calen now calls Phoenix home when he is not in Massachusetts. Calen is also a Mellon Mays Fellow, currently researching queer possibility in trap music. In his free time, he watches too much film, reminisces of days when he could hoop better, and enjoys the loud and quiet company of loved ones. The following poems appear in our spring/summer 2018 issue.

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