Identity at the Round Table
When we come to the round table of literary discourse and are asked questions about our identity as writers of African extraction, what do we say in response to the query that questions our identity as African writers? Who is an African writer?
Certify This Land
Tell me protest fields will halt to morph into abattoirs every time/we demand for a sunny life, for a right to inhale and exhale, every night we want to resurrect strangled justice from its grave.
Crossing the stage, diploma in hand, sole flapping loose from the plastic heels/my mother shipped to me for thirty dollars more than what they cost/lipstickless mouth unmasked for the livestream/my parents were watching nine thousand miles away
Don’t Come Looking for Me, Father
He accused Portuguese of being the “language of the colonizer” and defended the urgent prioritizing of the African “national languages” spoken in Angola. This was another of the theories that he considered essential for the future of the nation.
Coming to America
we don’t speak English/the taxi driver takes us/to the wrong town/the teacher/gives me a new name/which I hate
Best Small Fictions Nominations 2021
Announcing the Decolonial Passage Best Small Fictions nominees for 2021.
Where I Am From
Where I am from, we count nights and not days/by day, we become one with the forest to evade bullets/and by night we search for the biggest holes to conceal our bodies.
Pushcart Prize Nominations 2021
Announcing the Decolonial Passage Pushcart Prize nominees for 2021.
In Case of Fire
In case of capture/this poem is reversible/Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o wrote a novel/on sheets of prison toilet paper/The blank side of this page/is suitable for ink, or similar markers/Improvise as needed/and good luck to you.
At Heaven’s Anteroom
There/At the anteroom of heaven/The land of the Free/The wealthy kingdom beyond those mountains afar/May the eyes that see you want you/May they smile in adoration/By how handsome a soul you are.
Seeing Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez
103 degrees became a ticket for transfer/to Westlaco Border Patrol Station/a concrete block bench for a bed/thin mylar sheet for a blanket
Where did you come?
U come from/That flesh? Of which?/The one that mirrors your hue/Or, the one whose darkness seeps through?/Those wires that make up your being/are gradient sand particles aligned to the composure of one.
PEN/Robert J. Dau Prize Nomination
Decolonial Passage is honored to nominate Maria Luisa Santos for the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. She is nominated for publishing her absolute first fiction publication with our magazine.
I Cry with the Sea
Every now and then I see her looking down at the waves/Their dance invoking memories/Warm days under African sun/when life was free.
The Aging Colossus
Cast your lantern in the darkened corners where injustice lives and where blindness-feigning Justice lies. Where children are stopped, searched, cuffed, assaulted, detained.
Best of the Net 2021 Nominations
Announcing the Decolonial Passage Best of the Net nominees for 2021.
Pretty comes in all shades of black.
Wheelchairs provide freedom — however individual and/or limited by inaccessibility — to many disabled people. And insofar as divine beings represent or create freedom for some people, it felt appropriate to me to portray a god in/as a wheelchair.
The pattern of sounds was the only way the children could determine when to cross. Standing on the far end of the road. Looking over the railings. Timing the moment in which they would need to dash.
Black Girl With A Book
You’re smitten, with her sage-like words and intellectual prose/Yet you pretend, to be unimpressed, and upend, her, turning up your nose/But you cannot offend her, you’re threatened by her, and…she…knows
Between the Bars
Malcolm X said:/America means prison/For me too, O/My brother/America means prison
Yellow Comedy: a Parallel Poem
People call me yellow jack/Some hailed me as a yellow dog/When I yelped on my yellow legs/To flee from the yellow flu
This is the Drum
This is the drum that recovered myriad times/made of Cordia africana, stretched/over space, time and land, repaired/in Amerindian antelope and/deer skin, to begin again, uniting/the Akan, Virginian, Taino, and Carib.
Some Decolonial Notes on Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing
Specifically, decolonial theory calls for the re-membering of dismembered peoples, this means an action to re-humanize dehumanized peoples of the world, because decolonial theory appreciates that all forms of oppression thrive precisely because grand-dehumanization is their operative agent.
What We Must Do to Survive
They call it the ultimate tropical paradise in those ads you see but ain’t nothing sweet about it when all you do is work and still after all that work, there is nothing to show.
The War Mindset
The collective tragedy Eritrea wears as a badge of honor touched my family, too.
Crossing Borders for an Elusive Betterment: Filipina and Chinese Women in Japan
Underlying marriage migration is this idea of the geographics of power, and the differentials in mobility and agency between sending and receiving communities.
How Do I Abandon the City?
How do I abandon the skeletons buried in my hipbone?/Pick my cells of wilful chromosomes/or chase the rascally child of my wandering to/the den of a famished road?
The cross is del otro lado, on the northern/side of the forbidden river/Gracias a Dios – it could be saying – /thank you, sweet Virgin, Virgencita/de Guadalupe, here we set our feet/on firm land again.
The mythical bridge
We are the first ones/Who went to Kemet/From the Kingdom of Kush/Without offending our ancestors
I Didn’t Know
I didn’t know/I’d be used to create a fractured dynasty/with no connection/to the land I left
Whenever they’d rise up from there/Jim Crow would beat them down again./Lesson learned; the law is not your friend.
She Presented the Governor of the C0lored Department a Watermelon
It may be imagined that Harriet stayed close/to her roots – remaining in the state of Georgia/after gaining freedom. Yet her quilting patterns /illustrate past family in Benin, West Africa
Like many/I do not know where in South Asia my ancestors were taken from generations ago/While much was lost in the pages of history/a steady thread that connects me remains
Returning to my mother’s eyes
I would return almost three decades later/to a corner supermarket – my mother’s room/A Telkom telephone booth/hangs outside the walls that contained her childhood.
Ode to Newark
Never would I imagine Newark to be a tourist destination or a dwelling for New Yorkers to squat at for cheaper rents.
What You Left Behind
It cut across your vein that ‘Black Life/ Matters’ you didn’t say it because you know/The future, that you are African/That you are the future.
In the Land of Queen Elizabeth’s Head
“In this country there are opportunities for all,” Boy Kennedy pointed out as he settled on his haunches to inspect the vehicle’s tyres. “Do you see how we now live in the land of Betty’s head?”
He had tried to fantasize about how his life would have turned out if he had never left Cuba.
Stolen from Africa
We run to and fro in frenzy/like violent waters in a broad river/We bump into each other/like sand particles in a whirlwind.
Jamaican Holiday, 2006
Dance my sister/Dance my spirit round your bones/Break the illiterate silence and contorted sterility of/My 21st century over-Americanized ethnicity, Sister.
Walking the Rain
Doors are rotten mouths/they shout in wooden frames, “Get out/you don’t fit here, what’s a sunny/old girl like you doing in these parts?”
Men his age had large pieces of land, and those who had small pieces at least had fertile pieces. Men his age had stable sources of income from employment or entrepreneurship. Most importantly, men his age had children, a wife, and maybe a girlfriend.
When cries/Sprinkled on the feet of tyrants/They were swept away/When bones sailed the Atlantic/Dreams drowned/Into the womb of the sea
what is a necktie if not a symbol/of white male domination/and decades of cultural oppression?/amid diminishing colonial powers/the archaic rules remain/codified in the house of parliament
Standing in front of the gold feline pendant/I recalled one of my previous incarnations./The jewelry had belonged to me/and now it was on display in the Museum of Fine Arts/where I and others stared at it.
Dealing with the unnatural heat
The sun/boiled the oranges into rust & the birds grew gills to swim/the heat. How many twirling fans died that year when we/gathered swollen leaves from sun baked drains? Even the/air conditioning breathed like a bloated river.
I remember in high school, explaining to friends/the racism of the cartoon, Speedy Gonzales. His/”arriba, arriba” grito just a Chicano shuck and jive./His campesino hat too big for even the sombrero dance.
They held such strength/I felt that I could fly/so I leapt/knowing the ripcord safety net belay were in place/Until they weren’t
Mofongo, A Sensory Memory
No matter the efforts of the/Spanish to erase the Boricuas/to whiten them via colonialism/mofongo, pasteles, and the/countless dishes are additions/to our culture and proof otherwise.
Billie Holiday’s Deathbed
Who are these men that know nothing/about the blues? Inspiring jinxed history/with officious ink–corrections bled red/outside the margins, ignored or overcome–/their shared voice, warning: Be more like me.
Doña Maria is/the despenadora, the one who/takes care of the suffering./ La que quita penas.
A Song for Grandmother: Daughters of Hoodoo
Can you see them/Those wide women/Wide like the earth/Dressed always in white/Ready soldiers of love
Once Was Black
Black shuns not in the respect of one another/It forgot the struggles of the previous generations./It isn’t unity anymore, everyone for yourself./Safe to say, once we were Black.
Black man you are on your own/In your own unmarked unknown grave/In your own land you do not own/With your own hands you own but lend to owners
Folding Time: Dear Descendant(s)
Trotting from place to place across Africa showed me more of her beauty and the abundance of wealth tucked within her.