There is not in the world one single poor lynched bastard, one poor tortured man [sic], in whom I am not also murdered and humiliated.
                  —Aimé Césaire

At the end of reason: the black saint of lynching.
There are torches at my feet, corkscrews in my chest.
My genitals, liver,
heart, kidneys become souvenir,
my flesh chunks in flame, amid laughter.
Soot of my body plundered,
knuckles plucked and set on display
in department stores. 

At the end of reason lies the torturer's line
            fevered and spreading.
            I have been in every set of eyes
            seen what medicine torture can be.
            The more you cut, the more you cut, the more you cut
            the less human I must be.
            But you were wrong.
            You've birthed me
            in my own blood
            and nothing made you drag the knife harder
            than my face turned mirror.
            What gruesome ablution.

At the end of reason is our miserable debut,
            a lack of recognition
            the hollow-bodied limp
            reciprocation died with.
            We are human only if I see myself
            in you and if you see yourself   in me.

At the end of a different path, the sun warms
            like whiskey
            and freedom is meat in the mouth.
            All we have here are the knife cuts. 

At the end of reason, I am banished:
            I, black head unfattened by shotgun shell, banished
            I, black chest uncompressed by blue creased knee, banished
            I, black body unhunted, banished
            I, black expectation deniggerized, banished
            I, black spirit decolonized, banished
            I, black limb of the human paradigm, banished.

At the end of reason, I am locked in place:
            I, criminal, locked in place
            I, fat mouth, wet welfare lips, locked in place
            I, Jezebel, locked in place
            I, hyphenated sub-American,
            I, natural athlete, locked in place
            I, thug,
            I, magical negro, locked in place
            I, primitive golem of the earth,
            I, Hottentot Venus,
            I, Sweet Dick Willie,
            I, tongue clicks in the bush, locked in place
            I, godzilla to white women,
            I, king gangster,
            I, biological, locked in place
            I, dark savage without spirit,
            I, biological,
            I, biological,
            I, biological, locked in place.   
            I, flesh to be cut/maimed/forgotten
            when it disobeys.
            I deserve the shackle
            deserve the whip, the noose.
            I deserve the burning, the bullets, the bars.
            I deserve solitary
            because if I don't
            what are you?


Quenton Baker

Issue 17 • Spring 2016