Cameron Awkward-Rich
[Black Feeling]




& after that, even the whirring of your head goes quiet. Even your breath. No sound. Someone in workshop says something like, in Italian, stanza means room. Don’t roll your eyes. Here you are in the room. Here you are with things, but no names for things.







You’ve been in this city for weeks now & no one knows your name. No one except the man at the bus stop with his tallboy. His paper bag. When he asks, you tell him you work at the university, you teach. He was a cop, ‘til someone died & he found the bottle. Or, the drink came first & then the falling off this umber world. In this moment, you’re a man to him. Some kind of boy genius philosopher, who knows? There is something neither one of you can say. You’re circling like animals, like prey.







The truth is, most black folk look at you & see a woman. White people look at you & see a reckless boy. Either way, there you are in the room with your body.







Everywhere, the bus names a kind of underworld. The man lives there, but you are just a passenger. He clears a space, says sit. You can’t sit. He looks at you with so much gratitude you think you’ll die.







You have to understand that there are many rooms. Each of them operates by other laws. Here, once you name a thing, you can’t take it back. It has its own life now, one that moves along without concern for you. At first, you go around talking to the trees & for just a moment they turn to face you.








By the time the bus arrives the light has gone & the man is holding out his hand. You take it, not expecting to be thrown against him. Against him, you are years ago, a frantic girl alone. The man is on his knees. You are a boy holding up his brother. The man is on his knees.  Either way, there you are in the room with your body. Your one, wet face.






                                                                                        [ O


                                                               god of the loophole


                                                                      god of the veil


                                                                    god of the break


                                                                           the fugitive


                                                                  in endless flight ]






Somewhere, there’s a room where things go to lose their names. A rose becomes [  ]. A daughter becomes [  ]. Her son [  ].





Unlocking your apartment, you realize you never caught his name. He just looked at you & saw a door. He can’t walk back through but there you were. An image racing on the other side.



Found In Volume 47, No. 05
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Cameron Awkward-Rich
About the Author

A poet and critic, Cameron Awkward-Rich is the author of Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016) and Dispatch, winner of the 2018 Lexi Rudnitsky Editor's Choice Award and forthcoming from Persea Books in 2019. His poetry has appeared in Narrative, The Baffler, Indiana Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere, and he has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Watering Hole, and Duke University.