Appearance is everything – a poem
I would like to be well spoken but I am not.
I would like an accent that says I went to a rich school and was raised in a rich way.
But my recovered voice reveals industrial North London, like an opulent velvet curtain swept aside beneath a crystal chandelier, mirroring the council estate where I was born, with cement walls the colour of Russian mink.
Tattoo reads, “When words become inadequate, I shall be content with silence”.
There are words waiting: a poem
My fingers, pink side up
Hold stories made of gestures,
Signs and twirls.
Of each fingerprint start a chapter, a Sign Language tale.
Violence made me mute when I was younger;
It still returns as an adult – the silence
To a fractured part inside my soul.
Another name, another author
Of my life takes hold.
And when I stare at my palms, the lines,
So fractured, divides
Into several paths, many lives
I have carried:
A library of personalities tallied.
My fingers move, my body remembers
Trees towering above me
And a book burning
As another part of me rises from the embers.
I wrote the poem below for MancuniCon, the U.K. Easter sci fi convention. I sadly experienced a few racist incidents whilst at this event, as I do most places I go. However, when I wrote this poem, I thought about how white science fiction and fantasy is in general, and how the possibility of people of colour inhabiting a fictional space makes so many defensive unless we are subservient to white folks. The poem is inspired by my all time fave episode of any Star Trek series, Far Beyond the Stars, on Deep Space Nine.
I don’t want to be the only black soul in space
I don’t want to break through the atmosphere
I don’t wanna blast off to an unknown place
I want to stay right here
Cos if black folks board those rocket ships
Ain’t nothing new it gonna prove
Cos all they really want us for
Is to shine those white folks shoes
You may say a brave new world’s waiting
Where a man can truly be free
But this black soul be contemplating
This here world and the racist cruelty I’ve seen
Freedom don’t come beyond the stars
I won’t find it way up there
Freedom means stories of my own
Where black folks sit in the captain’s chair
And ain’t it sweet you imagine aliens
Being red and blue and green
But black folks in sci-fi are impossible
Too unbelievable to be seen
That’s why I choose to write what I do
Black fantasy is why I’m here
Far beyond the stars may look good to you
But son, I ain’t got the fare
No such thing as invisible,
Only just erasure.
Biphobia and racism inexcusable;
My mental health’s in danger.
Apologies do no good to me
When I’m the target of violence
And you choose to ignore my cries;
The voice I have is silenced.
I am standing right beside you, see?
Bisexual, black and nonbinary.
I am also part of LGBT
Don’t pretend that you can’t see me
Let Yorkshire and Lancashire bicker and wail;
Their rosy conflicts all do pale
Against the county oh so grand:
The edge of England. Northumberland.
Southeners poke at each other in jest and fun,
These cockney rebels and Sarf London.
But the Thames can’t compare to the mighty Tyne’s span;
And my one and only: Northumberland.
If Scotland were to go it’s own way,
Would Geordie and Makem people stay?
Or would they too become an independent land?
An angel of Europe: Northumberland.
Watch the North Sea swell and crest.
See the Stadium of Light, where football’s the best.
I want to escape to Berwick, at least that’s my plan.
And shine like my sparkling star: Northumberland.
Placard reads “Thank God for Bisexuals”
Ignore eating food like pork and shellfish.
Ignore your tattoos because you love getting inked.
Ignore wearing clothes made with two different fibres;
Just misquote the Bible, and then call me a liar.
Ignore keeping prisoners as your slaves.
Ignore all the things you don’t like on the scripture’s page.
Ignore cutting off your right hand if it offends you.
Just misquote the Bible, then behave far worse than I do.
Conveniently forget to love your neighbour.
Forget the might of God’s great power.
Forget that he forgives us all.
Forget the hurt behind the names you call,
When you’re cussing me straight to hell.
I hope your memory serves you well.
All those things you haven’t said – The love you’ve failed to mention.
It’s available to all, no matter the sexual orientation.
I’m out and proud as a bisexual.
I guess that’s enough to make you so hostile.
If you love the Bible so much, and want me to heed it.
You best take some time out of your day to actually read it.
Because David loved Jonathan, he told him when they kissed.
And Ruth and Naomi’s love for each other was well and truly epic.
But your passages are select I see.
You’d rather ignore bisexuals in the Bible,
Than have love set anyone free.
Remember Jesus healed the Centurion’s beloved slave.
Remember it was Jesus, whose life for us he gave.
Remember God made us all, the queer folks too.
We are his children. He loves us.
Just as much as you.
I’d rather have a job,
Or some money so I can go my own way.
I’d rather be independent,
But I’ll settle for okay.
I’d rather not have anxiety,
Or pain that flattens me for days.
I’d rather have a sound mind and body,
But I’ll settle for okay.
Okay is sometimes the very best
That I can aspire to reach.
The words, “Love yourself, no matter what.”
Is a sermon others preach
I’d rather not have to listen to the saccharine words they say.
I wish I felt well again.
But I’ll settle for okay.