Three Poems by Taj Burroughs

If 

If I had a dream, 

I’d tell Martin 

Ask him how it feels to rest beside God 

If he knows Langston or James 

Tell ‘em I said “hi” 

Ask him what he thinks 

If we’re doing a good job 

If we’re doing it right

If he’s proud 

Ask him what the silence means between a bullet and a body 

Between the finger and the trigger 

Between the person and the fear 

Between the power and the abuse 

Ask him to fill it up 

Ask him to take it away 

To take us away 

Tell God to bring back His creations 

All of us 

Skins of clay 

Hairs of wool 

Bring us back 

If we’re not of this world 

Then take me home 

Where bigotry meets ash 

And i can eat skittles and be 15 

If I had a dream 

I’d tell Martin 

Tell him to come back 

And bring the others with you 

Tell him to take to the Promised Land 

I wanna see it 

To leave us some space 

We’re comin’ soon 

If I had a dream 

Wind Tunnels 

These days 

I’ve been speaking into wind tunnels 

Letting my words blow into idle talk

Letting my screams echo into whispers 

Letting my voice hush into vibration

Speaking into wind tunnels 

Because I’ve asked God to take my tongue back 

And let me live in silence 

To take it back 

it’s too big for my mouth 

Thickened by feelings that should be left in my throat 

Too loose, too forked, too stiff, too kind, too blind

I don’t want it 

Open my mouth 

lift my tongue 

And they all run away 

Open my mouth 

Lift my tongue 

And they all leave me astray 

Open my mouth 

Lift my tongue 

And they all become estranged 

Can’t you see

I should learn how to keep quiet

For It casts shadows 

Mouths darkness as my first language

Can you translate?

So I run

Back to couches I’ve outgrown 

familiar faces that I’ve known

To arms I’ve called home

Let my tears escape me

Before my words do

for my mother to wipe them 

Catch them 

Save them for her worst days

To remind her that her son needs her 

(She speaks into wind tunnels too)

They smile and hold me 

They love their baby boy 

“You had the biggest smile, but the saddest eyes”

They claim they know me better than I know myself 

But my words keep them on their toes 

Like little boys in magician hats 

Committing disappearing acts 

My words scare them too

So who do I run to?

wind tunnels 

Wide and Hollow 

Can you keep my secrets?

Can you hold my burdens?

Can I speak and you not judge me? 

Can you listen? 

I stand there at the mouth of you 

Let out my biggest weep 

And no one hears me on the other end 

Maybe God

When I asked Him to make sure his chest is open

So I can lay my head to rest

Words of self-discovery get depicted as sadness

So I’ll keep my words to myself 

And keep my language as light as possible 

No one has the time 

For my  “sad” negro rhymes

So I’ll walk down 

To the nearest one

Past the brink of communication

And speak 

into wind tunnels 

I’ve grown to know

White Folk (Pt. I)

White folk

I hate white folk 

I mean 

It’s hard not to hate white folk

I don’t hate white folk

white folk 

Oppressive people 

Mothers who birth genocides of nations

Men who fondle privilege and guns 

I mean I hate white folk

Dark blue brothas livin on a white man’s dollar 

High yella brothas livin on a white man’s dollar 

8- hour days

I said 

8 -hours a day 

I mean 

8-hours in the day 

Becoming the white man’s wet dream, stroke the ego of him

and his father and his father’s father and his father’s brother

Fold my tie

Over and under 

Pull 

Tug

Coon 

Pull 

Tug 

Coon

Pull

Tug

Coon

Holding my sour haste

Between “hellos” , “good mornings”, “sir”

Sir

Sir

Became “boy”, “kid” for 8-hours a day

I said 8-hours a day

Being another “boy”

Being another nigga 

another dindu nuffin 

another white man’s sandbox

Grazing through our days with nooses around our necks 

And your breath down our backs 

As you pull a little tighter 

Smile a little wider

Pull 

Tug 

Coon

A ventriloquist and his pickaninny dummy 

Grazing through our days constantly waiting on the next lynching 

Lynching as a ceremony 

A festive ritual 

A dance 

A certain groove 

A swing 

As black brothas look up to the sky to see one of us figure eighting in the clouds 

We cry 

You laugh and gasp and make your father proud 

While our fathers whisper prayers beneath your feet 

10 toes down

So much hate 

Where does it reside? 

Between our gums, under our tongue, at the tips of our lips

Along the crescent trails in our palms 

we settle for doormen

And we open doors for the genocides to come

Taj Burroughs (he/him/his) is a young Black, queer, plus-sized artist from the streets of Queens, New York. The poet, actor, creative is currently earning his BFA in acting at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Taj believes in the power of the pen and the deep connection it has to healing, ancestry and spirituality. He’s learning new ways to love himself and lead a healthy life everyday. You can follow his journey on instagram @tajburroughs 

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