Please help the Black Earth Institute continue to make art and grow community so needed for our time. Donate now »

a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 4: The Concept of Inhabitance

Shelagh Patterson

Shelagh Patterson
A Shady Promise

i just want to hold you in speckled green light
—Charlotte Henay

lived experience in an alternate dimension—
cuts through the present
in this geopolitical colonized and ruled
space. We have commitments
maintaining certain bourgeois and colonial
order that our touching would
shatter. Our revolutionary journeys
are tied to commitments by choice
not necessity. The path of patience and discipline
is an ethics. In a highly controlled society
how can we change it but by eating it?
If we can swallow it we can change it.
If we break it how many are broken in the process?
Whether any one of us wanted
to or not we entered
a polyamorous relationship.
What do we do next?
Name it different as masquerade?
Sometimes to face things straight on
turns us to stone.
As queer black indigenous wimmin there are things we can see
easier. If we want to bring along on our journeys
the others we love
we have to learn to
provide appropriate mirrors
at appropriate angles
so others can see glimpses
without the terrifying whole. If we swallow it
to transform it
we regurgitate bits like candy
with which others can sweeten
their mouths. Taste our futures
as shared desire.
If we touched the scream
would let loose
too much chaos at too much cost.
I have chosen witch
and have let loose
the banshees elsewhere.
Please don’t
call them back
Shelagh Patterson was born and raised in Brooklyn. She is a poet, scholar, and activist with an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry from CUNY Hunter College and a PhD in English: Critical and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She was a recipient of the Bronx Writers’ Center’s Literary Arts Fellowship, a Cave Canem fellow, and a Scholar/Artist in Residence at the Urban Issues Institute at Essex County College. Her recent projects include being the humanities partner for JACK, an arts center in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn and writing an afterschool theatre arts curriculum for the City of Newark. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, newspapers, magazines, journals, experimental theater, bureaucratic documents, and a feature film. Currently an Assistant Professor of English at Montclair State University, she lives in Newark, NJ.



©2024 Black Earth Institute. All rights reserved.  |  ISSN# 2327-784X  |  Site Admin