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‘This Poem is for Black Folk’

Spoken word performer Kathleen Charles shares new work in honour of Black History Month
February 19, 2021
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Concordia student Kathleen Charles — also known as Powetik — has penned a new poem inspired by Black History Month. Charles is a Haitian writer, playwright, poet and spoken word performer currently pursuing her master's in Creative Arts Therapies in the Faculty of Fine Arts

Charles uses poetry and self-expression to heal. Her work explores the trials of queerness within Black communities, anti-racism, Black girl magic, mental health and self-actualization despite systemic oppression.

Watch a video of Charles's new work This Poem is for Black Folk and read her words below.

This Poem is for Black Folk

 

White house red house

Smoke blowin in the wind

White house red house

Grandma sippin gin

White house red house 

Fire over the land

White house red house

Built by grandma’s hands

 
 

I cut into a lemon today. And there was magic inside. I know that because I was there. I was present. In my body. For the sliding song of satin on my skin. A Black body breathing

And breathing

And breathing 

And breathing

When so many of us can’t breathe. A holy moment. Beauty that cannot be denied.

 
 

There was a gun under my grandmother’s dress. And now a machete on my altar. But there are rose petals in my hands. And resin under my tongue. Parts of us don’t know how to exist beyond trauma. And other parts are birthing this as new territory.

 
 

So when white eyes see white hands climb white walls and beg black souls to save them. 

We say... not this time. There is more important work to be done here.

 
 

White house red house

Smoke blowin in the wind

White house red house

Grandma sippin gin...

 
 

Took us a while to see the golden in Black. I had to run through a battlefield to meet the God in me.

To have suffered as we have. The evil that we could have birthed...could have swallowed the world whole. And still we stand whole. We Holy. Not even asking for revenge. We Mercy. 

Dancing in the dark. Stars dripping from our tear ducts.We all that...and some magic.


 

But, I swear the cries reached forward for me through time. Body remembers things I never went through. Believe me if you want to. Although my magic inspires you. This subjugation does not.    Stir my customs in a pot. Ooh delicious on your tongue. But shots fire and to silence you run...or better yet.. surprise. 

 
 

Surprise as in...white eyes see white hands climb white walls

And beg black souls to save them

But reparations were due in the mail hundreds of years ago

And there is more important work to be done... here.

 
 

White house red house 

Fire over the land

White house red house

Built by grandma’s hands

 
 

The work I speak of...that important work. Is a hard work. Yet a simple work. A re-teaching of sorts. There will be times your body and the water will make love. And the hummingbirds will come to inform you of when an ancestor smiles. 

 
 

You are the song never sung. You were born into uncharted territory. Beyond survival...

Is your name. Everything you want here is welcome on this new soil, even the latent blooming...but blooming nonetheless

 
 

And so you must bathe, and sing, and create, and love, and cry, and give up just to get back up, and try again, and make mistakes, and get angry, and scream, and make love, and laugh, and touch, and be imperfect, and fall, and work

 
 

And give more work to yourself than all the work the world demands of you.

 

Ascend...because you can. Smile, draped in white. Wet lavender footsteps, sing yourself silly.

Be silly, be quirky, be whatever, but be...for me?

For you? For them? For now? For past? For present? For future, oh desperate future...

Be anything you desire

And repeat

 
 

Black body 

All that holy in one beautiful wild human being… being human. This...if only this...is your purpose. 

Is the reason you are here.To expand, to relish, to indulge, to fight…

 
 

Oh yes, prepare yourself for a longer fight. Freedom is a birthright that you will constantly have to defend. And it hurts, and we’re tired, rather exhausted. So, you better put some care in your skin.

You who must be built to last. And your rest must be just as ferocious as your righteous work.

 
 

So breathe beautiful black being breathe

And breathe

And breathe

And breathe

 
 

Have an orgasm for your grandmother

For the nameless spirits in rocking chairs

And for that auntie who’s all wound up in her discontent 

 
 

And tell your friends...who just pulled up...that they are painfully late.



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