We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.
But do also remember galleries, gardens, herbariums. Repositories of
beauty now ruin to find exquisite—
the untidy, untended loveliness of the forsaken, of dirt-studded & mold-
streaked treasures that no longer belong to anyone alive, overrunning
& overflowingly unkempt monuments to the disappeared. Chronicle
internally the heroes & mothers, artisans who went to the end of the line,
protectors & cowards. Remember when pain was not to be seen or
looked at, but institutionalized. Invisible, unspoken, transformed but
not really transformed. Covered up with made-up valor or resilience.
Some people are not worth saving, no one wants to say, but they say it
in judgment. They say it in looking away. They say it in staying safe in
a lane created by someone afraid of losing ground, thinking
I doubt we’re much to look at, as we
swallow what has to hurt until we can sing
sharp as blades. Aiming for the sensational
as we settle for the ordinary when avoiding evidence of suffering at all
costs, & cherish
the opportunity to reach clone-like into the ground as aspen roots, or
slide feet first down a soft slope, wet, cold, but the faith to fall toward
the unseen, against the bleak of most
memory, call it elusive. Call it
the fantasy to end all fantasies, a waiting fatality, the wreck of both
education & habit.
We could watch ourselves lose it all. There’s a chance.
Khadijah Queen is the author of five books, most recently I'm So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (YesYes Books 2017). Earlier poetry collections include Conduit (Akashic / Black Goat 2008), Black Peculiar (Noemi Press 2011) and Fearful Beloved (Argos Books 2015). Her verse play Non-Sequitur (Litmus Press 2015) won the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women's Performance Writing. She serves as core faculty in poetry and playwriting for the new Mile-High MFA in creative writing at Regis University.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
In her new book, Danish poet Olga Ravn writes with open love, pity, and compassion for her strange yet familiar creations.
Draconian individual punishment distracts from systemic change and reinforces the cruelest and most racist system of incarceration on the planet.
Our well-being depends on a better understanding of how the logic of labor has twisted our relationship with pleasure.