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Three Poems by Olivia Max Grace



i'm sorry ma, or: yet another

i used to love the smell of sage

but now it means someone else has died

the air is sick with it

i come home and eat funyons a snickers bar and coca cola because

i dont have strength to make rice today

i don't have the heart to cut open the peppers in the crisper because

did you know at the spoken word area

elaine brown (an original black panther) and

uncle bobby (oscar grant's uncle) spoke

and did you know that

nia wilson's father

cried when we rushed the alley to push out the proud boys

and did you know that the cops laughed when he yelled

'no more violence! i have to bury my daughter! I am the one!'

another black man quieted him pushed him back yelled

'we are your family'

and shielded the crowd from his grief.

the cops laughed

the cops laughed

the cops laughed

the helicopters began circling

i put my body between the cops and the black women crying the black women crying

the black women screaming that this needs to end

somehow i hope that my body will put one more stopgap between one more bullet between

one more smile wielded like a knife

later i am counting cops as someone is talking to those around us about

going to the white neighborhoods

fucking shit up in the white neighborhoods

about how us white folx are complicit if we aren't taking things to where we live

where our families live

and a woman says at my bandana, 'i know what that look means'

'don't go breaking any windows.

you break windows and we follow you and the cops arrest us.'

deconstructive politics is not all breaking windows

deconstructing systems takes work

'you trust fund kids get away with it all'

i kept counting cops.

but there is catharsis in talking about fire

we smudge this shit

break windows burn sage

make space keeps eyes out

we keep each other safe

Spell for how to walk safe

Bell jar containing:

pepper spray

keychain flashlight

stiletto dagger

that soft and vulnerable bit of flesh from going on five tormented boys who limp howling into the night dripping Hammurabi's Code an eye for an eye a piece me for a piece of you

say it to yourself i am fierce three times in the mirror while shaving off all your hair

whisper to yourself i am god three times to the moon to the moon to the moon she understands

my throat is a ghost or: another panic attack

my throat is a ghost

actually

knives

actually

blood

actually

i try to watch cartoons

to calm down

but i don't remember

how to not feel this way

i am sanguine

but not as in having blood

but as in being bloody

that metallic taste

behind the ghost

says something seizure

seize her

but she took the pills

we take the pills

we don't shake

except we tremble

the body holds its wounds they say

like a graveyard for the living

heartbeats hold cold in triplicate

Olivia Max Grace is not entirely sure who they are but sometimes identifies as a genderqueer artist(?) and usually wears oversized sweaters. They like plants, really clean counters, and white sheets. Recently, they made the transcontinental journey from Washington, DC to Oakland, CA in search of more calm or more ocean. Liv spends most of their energy trying to fight racism, fascism, capitalism, the hetcispatriarchy, and especially the prison system. And while Liv tells people that they paint late at night, they're probably reading twitter.

Image by Stephanie Young Merzel, found on Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/dupZHo

#poetry #oliviamaxgrace

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