You. Yes, you are Being. So, tell yourself, even in you don’t believe it, I am beheld. Tell yourself, this day, this moment, this present, opens, bright and ripe and open.
Marvell, Arkansas, comes to mind, Beatrice’s commitment and love, concretized and taught…garden, and history, and sound. Study. You. Well.
You tell yourself, I am made up, a fiction of myself. You tell yourself that are you made up of soft stuff. Of tissue and skin, and gut and brain. You tell yourself to listen. You tell you. You are so tired of listening. The drones. This droning. The dead gods. The dying empire. The dead, the dead, the dead.
Waylaid. Tell yourself. What happens to grief deferred?
Well. If you are eyes, or have eyes, you open them, in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, in every season, in every moment. They close. They will close. Your eyes, close. Us, again. You listen to your soft muscle, pumping. You beat soft. You drum skin. Taut. You blood move. You, light. Come inside. This room. Diffuse. No need. To move, driven this light. Studied.
You are. The dialectic.
Closer, when the light comes into the room, where there have only been corridors to drive that light. There are no more thunderstorms. The droning. That surveil, you listen. Hover. Hovering you. About your head. About your buildings. About your make, about you… Only, you observe this matter. You, in turn, surveil.
Of light, or rather, the thing, that object, that you love around which the light moves. Remove that obstruction. Let love. Be studied. There will always be a ewer in the corner of your room. It is to catch the rain, that falls, from the leak in your room. If no rain falls… You will imagine.
Rain, you will remember. Waylaid.
You are in Los Angeles. You are in Oakland. You are in Brooklyn. You are in Charleston. You are in Memphis. You are in Palmares. You are in Rafah. You are in Esmaraldas. Waylaid. You are in Réunion. You are in Natchez, and Istanbul, and Kinshasa, and Dakar, and…
Next to the bed in which you have been sleeping unevenly. Dreams and terrific visions, and night, and night, and night and…What if your evil mind riding weary on this light of this evening obsolesces the border, obliviates the border, denies the order of these borderings….
You wake, and a wasp will come, will visit you daily for a month, stinging you, and then will vanish. You will question sanity, edema, torpor, seeing, iris, mercury, encampments, rooms, visitations, fallwayintos, maths, hollers, frottage, wakes, redress, science…
You have a window. It is large. There are three panels. Material. The center being the widest. When you look through. You will think. What a flat surface. You do.
From what you can surmise. Cars exist. There are not as many as you have remembered or dreamed, but the sound is unmistakable. Do you remember the lattice, the wrought iron, the way the light moves through it? The smith curves the iron. You are. Wrought into Being.
Today, you realize you are forty years old, in your apartment, with no job prospects, looking out of a despair, birthing rage clears thinkings, about a world, about worlds, about… Begin. Part of you never wants to know it. This other part, that knowing region of your spirit, knows that you must language the world that was, that is, the worlds that are to come.
In reality you type words. You wonder about any meaning. And sometimes some thing will seem like truth, or the truth, or a truth. For example, Waylaid as.
In reality, this Waylaid. This moment will bear upon you alternately more and less than the wasp’s visitation.
This situation… You mean pandemic, you mean catastrophe, you mean, this cull of your people, reminds of you of the war, or rather, of war. More than the war, the siege. There’s a charge to the air. You feel it. Shit, you see it in the way they lock hands, the lovers you are passing by. Passing you by? Waylaid. Their mouths cloaked forever in this ceaseless season of longing. Your mouth. Cloaked and Uncloaked.
On one of those quiet evenings, before the world turns to panic, you watch as a plane flies over the tallest building in this city of angels. It’s movements nearly imperceptible. Yet, the incremental shifts, the sun’s descent. The buildings ablaze. You do not weep. Waylaid. You believe in the night. Waylaid. You forget to remember certain…
They dragged Rem’mie’s body out of that river. They did not know it was her. They suspected. There were so many bodies of persons. Dragged, and dragged, and…
The world is on fire. Waylaid. The worlds are on fire.
Missing that week. You sit down with peppermint tea. You do not move for hours.
There is rust on the balcony, dried into a patchwork of desert. The building across the boulevard, the building in the foreground. A mere four stories. It is theorized that your heart has four chambers. I believe in fifth, and sixth, and seventh chambers… In how many stories…The cow jumped over the…Waylaid.
Chambers, do you believe?
The palm trees don’t stand like. These buildings, not up to earthquake code. The building’s facade, its foreground has a missing letter. THE PARK WI ONA. It’s enough of a sign, to recall Curtis Flower’s life who lives in Winona, Mississippi, just a car ride from the place where you are born, much of his life spent in bondage. He is free. The many others must follow. An incomplete list. Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Red Fawn Fallis, Michael Rattler, Marcus, David Gilbert, Reverend Joy Powell, Ana Belen Montes, Jeremy Hammond, Ivan Vargas, Simón Trinidad, Russel Maroon Shoats, Jalil Muntaqim, Mutulu Shakur, Jamil Abuallah Al-Amin, Veronza Bowers, Sundiati Acoli, Ed Poindexter, Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, Kamau Sadiki, Kojo Bomani Sababu, Suchell “Cinque” Magee, Jaan Karl Laaman, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar, Jared Chase, Bill Dunne, Marius Mason, Abdul Azeez, Malik Smith, Hanif Shabazz Bey, Oso Blanco, Alvaro Luna Hernandez, Ramsey Muñiz, Stephen Kelly, Fran Thompson, Steve Donziger, Joseph Mahmoud Dibee, and the many thousands more, who remain, carcerally unfree, in the camps, in the towns, in the cities, underneath the cities, on the borders, on the sea, …
If you don’t know the name of the street, you’re fucked. No one uses the names of these streets anymore. When you do a see a name, it is often written badly. One letter or many may be taller than the building. Itself.
I promise you the name, written properly. Okay. Not, Waylaid.
The threat of the levees. No, the promise of the riverine. No, I won’t take an oath for this state. Our lists are incomplete.
And a balcony juts toward your window. There will be no man who will water plants in the morning, but there will be a man with a large hairy stomach, who will smoke a cigar, and ostensibly tan for hours on end. He will look towards you, across Winona Boulevard, and smile.
Then, a woman in a cranberry robe will sit next to him. Hours will pass. They will not speak. She will use her spoon to crack open an egg. Some of the yolk will always spill over onto the shell, onto her fingers. She will purse her lips. She will tilt her head back. She will close her eyes. She will suck the yolk through the egg.
If we can remember, it is still mourning time.
In his memory of her, in the old country, she is out at the coop, peering through chicken wire. She watches the hens. She anticipates. It is dark and warm inside the coop. Soft clucks. The smell of the hay on which the eggs rest reminds her of the year they rode into the wood. A hay ride. Harvest is in the air. She would have been five or six or seven. She did not have… She is sitting in the back. And the road is getting suddenly dark. She sits aloft hay. The children around her cluck and peck at the candies. At the coop, one of the chicks pushes its head through the wire. To peck at her finger. This is wondrous delight. She pushes the chick’s head back inside the safety of the coop. She covers the eggs in hay. On the balcony, across the boulevard, the man with the hairy stomach, coughs and coughs. Smoke barrels from his throat.
In this dream, a parade of Black people, roar on motorcycles to the sound of A Call for All Demons These also ride alongside the wagon. Children on hay. Waylaid.
In the living nightmare, the one you don’t invent, above our boulevard, two police helicopters dance in the sky high above the apartment. Below them, the hungry and dying and thinking and believing and moving masses announce new worlds. Through my window, the helicopter moves from the center glass panel, then to the first, then darts to the third.
You look through the window.
They orbit each other like binary stars. Compelled. The state surveils nature, surveils beauty, surveils the lonely. We deny the state our dreams.
Not. Waylaid. These words come to you soft on the evening light which lasts. Sometimes whole days and seconds and eternities.
New cells. New structures. Clusters. Orbits of people. Emergent, frail systems. Everywhere doors tumble out from mouths, by signs, in footnotes, in ledgers, in songs, by hip sway, others remembered, or envisioned. Crossing and dancing, the lines of the Black crossings. New old. This work of recovery is not new, even if you are just finding these (perm) mutations on living.
Waylaid. You are alive.
The phone rings. It’s your mother. She’s had another heart attack or another attack of the heart. Waylaid. What’s the difference? She’s in the old country, the land where you grew up. Hundreds of miles away. She says you should make an effort. That she may not live. That she’s unsure about living, Waylaid, like this. And what are you doing anyway? You tell your mother. Dreams. Your mother scoffs. Waylaid. You sulk. You stars. You, interdependently, pulling and shaping that space between… Your mother does not believe in rifts. Anyways, her gravity is stronger than yours. Betraying all interstellar logics. You accuse of her being a straight line. To what? she counters. You? She laughs. Catherine, the dead girl, the one between you, would have never laughed like that. Knowing, you laugh, in turn. Trouble is whole.
In earth. You remember. Your living room is very large. The window comprises one whole wall of the flat. Eastward. The window is an event like any other. Landing on the moon. Lighting a fire. Taking the dish out of the oven and sitting down for dinner. First you take it all in. Then you pick up the fork, the tender morsels of fungi, and salt, and butter taste very good. Savor this of flesh on the tongue. And there you are again, with yourself. Waylaid. In flesh and enfleshed.
The fantasy of the north, of the west, of the plains, of the midlands, of the isles, of the sierras, of these promised lands, now sit dashed, in repose, surrounded, waylaid by the order of their fantasy. So many migrations, to be met with, legacies of lack, revolutionizing, themselves under the impossibility of governing as total, as amnesia, as void, as surface and miscomprehension. Way making possibilities into ways of being, laid out before us, visible, articulable, to all, no matter the logics of these borders.
Yesterday, you talk to your grandmother. Like you, she is lonely, and taking care, and full of laughter. She sews the cotton into protection. Black family masks, she says, sewing and sewing, and… Apparatuses for breath. This wearing, she says. This wear. She’s not getting enough calls from all her grands, she tells you, without saying those words. We will last. There is no accusation in her tone. It’s a wonder, she says, that any of us are here at all. Waylaid. No wonder, she says, they all have death behind their eyes. Waylaid. A wonder, she says, that the birds are all singing again so quickly, and so loudly, and so beautifully, after the earthquakes, the storms, the floods, the fires, the wars, the sieges, the genocides, the gods, the churches, the politics, the terror, all these birds, singing their thousands and thousands of songs of the living. A wonder.