Edible, but Ugly
Originally published in Amendment, Virginia Commonwealth University’s literary magazine
respect is wit
unpredictable it lives
between public and private
which is why
our lives are as intense as they are sudden
perhaps black demands too much
we cross roads to be respected we exit too
we stand accused with the weight of an unshaped hunger
our doubts pregnant and outnumbered by a unilateral need to be politically correct
this debate room its linoleum floors its waxed opinions
we are eating dirt to avoid peer censure
the lump sum
we taxidermy ourselves to keep from having to consider the innuendos of small talk
an exact fear
a metallic taste
a menagerie maybe
blackness demands too much from us
all I have left is a fatigue and a fear that my bad breath might ruin my friendships
how eager we are to argue
to be consumed.
to maximize our potential
to become The Ballot or the Bullet
 “The Ballot or the Bullet” is the title of a public speech given by human rights activist Malcolm X. Delivered on April 3,1964, at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio
it wasn’t trite
damp palms shaking hands decadence
memory turned out to be a secular kind of amnesia rules benign
When everyday chimes like Sunday
now becomes a ripple effect
a revue of sound & color
betwixt a weathered inlet
shallow as an ars poetica
at the very least agonizing to those who can’t help but rubberneck
June hasn’t happened yet
still I sense
the half dressed vowels, and their bikini noises heat is so piss poor @ hello
The women will be unbearable
will have way too many reasons to be pretty
effortlessly hooked on phonics
phones spuding out each mutliply pierced ear
I maintain demure
remain an inflamed tear duct
searching for better ways to empty these gestures
Put a sparrow in the poem and make sure you do not become this sparrow
I am as sudden as a city
As two sax solos from two ages across a stage learning the languages
Calling the sun to work
The silence is loud
I think by now the river must be thick
In the imagination there is no daylight and,
From this field and the stillbirth it reveals, nigger
Rejection can kill you
There is no darkness like a closed door
Mouth dry. Mind gone
Floating home in measured gaps toward each shore.
Water the dark hue of anger now laps at the feet you can’t stand on.
The miracle was not birth but that I lived despite my crimes.
I wonder what death tastes like.
Sylvia Jones is a senior studying at Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon graduation this Spring she intends to continue her studies at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT as an MFA student their Creative Writing Program. Some of her work has appeared in Amendment, Poictesme and In Parentheses. When asked how she started writing the poet Gayl Jones, once said “I learned to write by listening to people talk”. While this is only halfway true of her own experiences, what writing has taught Sylvia is that as both human beings and as writers, the greatest resources we have are other people.
Candace Hunter is a mid-career artist who resides in Chicago. Her work has displayed locally, regionally and nationally. This past Fall, she became a proud recipient of the 3Arts Award. Candace is the second place winner of our Afrofuturism cover art contest and will have a dedicated gallery on our site.
*UPDATE: This article has been updated to reflect that Sylvia Jones will be studying at Vermont College of Fine Arts rather than the American University.