“I’m a firm believer that language and how we use
language determines how we act, and how we act
then determines our lives and other people’s lives.”
I take all the ways I say I love you & tuck them
into an august cove. I call out to God more than I call
out to my own mother or father. Only one responds.
Only one calls back son, calls back beloved.
I have forgotten the sound of my name leaving
someone else’s mouth. Pooling the tongue
w/ blood. I will never forget the August I took
part in a decision for someone w/o a body
in someone else’s body. For someone who could
not speak for themselves. Had never taken a breath,
cried, or worried about the state of humanity.
Decision is a tool. Choice less mechanical.
Neither of us knew their name. But I can name
the streets we took to protest those w/ names
& lives we will never forget. In the cold, we passed
a prison where ten million feet scraped the ground
w/ chains wrapped around their ankles. The signs
we held stopped the wind. Built a wall in the sky
around the ones who could not outrun the bullet
or narrative. Resistance is revolution. Revolution,
love. My father taught me a way to be angry
& belligerent & loving at once. A bottle taught
him that. There is no lesson my mother has
not retained. No lesson she has not passed down.
No lesson I have not inherited. In the streets, against
the cold, we chanted about the state of Black Lives.
Disengaged the body from administration. Marched
to the sound of our voices wrapped in the echoes of,
in the caved warmth of our allies. My voice: feathered
& winged. Bewildered. Beats its chest incredulously.
Heavy & mocking. Prowls like an animal trying
to unhinge, trying to say I love you but w/o
the proper tools.
Jason Harris is a poet and a NEOMFA candidate. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, TRACK//FOUR, Longleaf Review, Wildness Journal and others. He is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of BARNHOUSE Journal, a contributor for Watermelanin Magazine, and lives in Cleveland, OH. He can be found on social media @j_harriswrites