Friday, April 2, 2021

Heaven Is All Goodbyes - Tongo Eisen-Martin

A 1978 statement 
My brother and I are driving
In an empty cell lane 
We are God's evil to these settlers
They might throw us under the shift change
We take wolf naps
We don't know what else we good at besides this traveling
State lines in a night tide passing through beachhead america
Passing with hurricane memory 
-Three thousand exits of sludge-bathed apartheid 
Everything south of canada is extrajudicial gun oil
And your local unemployment factory
In a few hours we will fit in                            Relax for now 
Hop out of the car and I'm a dirty shoe illusion 
Leaning on the trunk with the ghosts of switchblades
                                                                                    And other rusty services 
I am enemy humor 
And traveling
Father’s ashes on the back seat behind two sons
In a lane not for metaphor 
Well, maybe a metaphor about something unfinished 
-One million hands passing us through the Midwest
Last wishes by way of fishtail/Day dreams by way of collision/Home in the badlands of translation/Relaxed passing/Great grandparents' finger bones/Father's ashes /No longer arms/Just tattoos
Badlands imagination 
A father's last trip home
We don't know what else we good at besides this traveling
Exits in collage/Exits in pieces/Pieces of 1970s kitchen plates/
In a good luck refrigerator/We still ain't ate/The narcotic swing of how we see yesterday
Get out of the car against desperate white supremacy
Gas station greetings
Stray dogs
And other earth born alarms
            We are stray deadly
Against desperate white supremacy/And other senses/That die silly/And have murdered
We don't know what else we good at
Besides this traveling 
Two coins/ or the toll is us
Character interstate on a journey of a million parallels
Some like us better high/Some like us better drunk/Every late night has a summer to it/Cousin breeze and murder rate 
Barreling like gut born love songs
Your ancestors are smiling
As we pass the time
When we ride
It's language
Passed Gary 3000
Cast iron lining /Proud forearms for meals
Three man ghost story
Fishers of ourselves 
Cards dealt
Narrative implied  
Maybe something unfinished 
Like an Indiana hurricane
Or two midnights in Milwaukee 
Or no arms
No tattoos
No Chicago
Ever again
We don't know what else we good at
Besides this traveling 
And besides
Heaven is all goodbyes 

Tongo is a poet, movement worker, and educator. His latest curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people, We Charge Genocide Again, has been used as an educational and organizing tool throughout the country. His book titled, "Someone's Dead Already" was nominated for a California Book Award. His latest book Heaven Is All Goodbyes was published by the City Lights Pocket Poets series, was shortlisted for the Griffins Poetry Prize and won a California Book Award and an American Book Award. He is San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.

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