Note from Amelia: An early part of the apparitions project involved collecting the poetry and photography of other talented writers and artists to share as part of a greater anthology. This component of the project didn't quite come together for many reasons, but I wanted to share the finest work Jonathan and I received as part of our celebration of the book's publication and this incredible year of poetry. I'm sharing this spring and summer series alphabetically by last name. Today's masterfully rendered poems, "It's All Politics" and "Labor Vampire," come to us from longtime friend, former colleague, and writer, storyteller, and essayist Candice Lola:
It’s All Politics
Why do you have to be so political all the time, Candice?
Because when I cut my hair I was told I was trying to be radical
When I straightened my hair I was ridiculed
When I ignored being excluded I was told I wasn’t good enough
When I made space for myself I was told I was conceited
When I was getting beaten I was told that I deserved it
When I spoke up for myself I was told that I was a bully
When I didn’t correct you, you told every Black person you met afterwards that I endorsed your casual racism
When I did correct you, I was “unnecessarily making it about race”
When I participated in mainstream culture I was called a lesser version of it
When I participated in my own I was called ghetto
When I assimilate I'm a second class citizen
And when I don’t, I’m unAmerican.
Someone else dissected my life and told me I was wrong before I got here.
So I have no choice in this existence.
While in this skin
and under this hair
and behind these lips
and in front of our past
my very breath is politics.
There isn’t much left to you
he chuckled as he
carved off pieces of my legs
and then mocked me for limping.
"It's All Politics" and "Labor Vampire," copyright 2022 Candice Lola