The Kitsch Offered by the Sentimental Brown Diaspora Poem

"An Exhibit of Symptoms" and "Have YOU made your Brown Poem today?"

An Exhibit of Symptoms

“All brown everything, better than you’ve ever seen / Never have you ever seen anything like it / Do you like it? / Oh, I think you like it / Maybe you should buy it / You should probably buy it”
— Das Racist, “Who’s that? Brooown!” Shut Up, Dude.

  1. In depicting a highly charged, emotional subject, the crisis attested to will not have a specific historical location.
  2. A perpetrator, shadowy, will be vaguely imperial, but not identifiable as a person, platoon, or policy.
  3. The victim’s part will be played across two or more generations, but the nature of devastation would have manifested emotionally, rather than legislatively or economically, e.g. disenfranchisement will be marked by the loss of a sense of a home, rather than an illegal repossession of a bungalow.
  4. The subject will be effortlessly identifiable, as will the scenarios that constitute the subject. However, the subject will be presented as the object. The following props will be ushered into the theatre of objecthood: fabrics, elements (salt, holy water, vermilion), a religious ritual (explained for fools), foods not purchased at a Kroger or a Giant, a foreign term used as a “foreign term.”
  5. There will be a description of the way warm hands touch (but not the way dead hands count or point).
  6. Italics will be weaponized for the benefit of the Awards Committee.
  7. An organ in the body will be compared to an animal and an animal will be morose or worse.
  8. The aesthetic uplift of the brown body will trump all other causes, including the ugly confession of complicity in the making of this wretched earth.
  9. Skin will be compared to a landscape, landscape to a feeling, feeling to an object, an object to a landscape out of reach. The reader will feel like they have touched all this with their clammy hands, between the jacket and the cover.
  10. Fabric will be used as a metaphor for connection or relation; an {impossible} connection or relation will be the metaphoric fabric.
  11. The poem will not teach you how the diaspora made your life. It will only make you feel like you know the diaspora. It will briefly make you feel guilty. It will make you hungry for takeout but not for equity.
  12. Language quoted will have a veneer of prophecy; language cited will decimate and recompose you before you can finish your “Chai tea” latte. Feel free to lick off the milky mustache.
  13. American idiomatic English will sit next to an ancestor’s Rotten English. One on a stool, another on a throne.
  14. The persona and the person will have conjugal visits, reluctantly; the poetry reading will be the awful testament to this yoking. You will watch. You will put this on a syllabus.
  15. The tone will be tilted towards the melancholic, the line break toward epiphany, the compass toward the victim.
  16. The speaker’s palm will remain open to slap or receive alms, ambiguously.
  17. A reviewer will say it “challenged” or “questioned”; a reader will feel at home with their foreignness in the work.
  18. A sari, yielding, unfolding, pleat after pleat, will bleat for the reader who could never tell your screams apart from your laughter.


Have YOU made your Brown Poem today?

✓ a mention of hands
✓ a flutter of an animal where it ought not to
✓ a postcard-sized war (ideally distant)
✓ a landscape that is body that is landscape, though is it though, really?
✓ a threnody threading a grandparent
✓ a flower, a degree of wetness, juxtaposed with antlers
✓ a kind of movement or gesture belonging to a self phrased as other
✓ a line break where there should be a coat hook
✓ a door where there could be a face
✓ an addressee who can’t be forgiven but is
✓ some mother’s wound
✓ a lamp lit
✓ another extinguished
✓ some twirling
✓ some hesitance
✓ a forebear’s resemblance
✓ a foregone conclusion
✓ a forceps delivery of an infancy come too late
✓ etc.
✓ a question to no one in particular
✓ that lingers
✓ etc.
✓ a haunting
✓ that doesn’t break your plates
✓ or make you move

Praying Mantis

The praying mantis was a sprite. I felt foolish for possessing the ability to speak in the company of this mute universe.

White City

Most of our seen world has been colonized. While we work to regain it, we protect the unseen from encroachment, from being stolen and mangled.