Words to Live By
Congratulations to Jubi Arriola-Headley of Fort Lauderdale, who earned the scholarship for African-American poets and free tuition to the 14th annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Jan. 15-20, at Old School Square in Delray Beach. According to a festival press release, Arriola-Headley is “a first-generation African-American, born to Bajan (Barbadian) parents, who also identifies as gay. As a black, queer man, in this historical moment, he is becoming accustomed to being portrayed, positioned, painted as a liability, a criminal, or at best—at best!—a victim. In a poem by Ross Gay, ‘Sorrow is Not My Name,’ Arriola-Headley found encouragement and moments of joy in the midst of the everyday torrent of rage and grief.”
Arriola-Headley was kind enough to share one of his poems with Lifestyle readers.
“10 Miles of Concrete”
In the shadows of treasured heirlooms—most delicate bone china, sterling silverware with untarnished provenance, secret recipes handed down over as many generations as the old-growth mahogany altar on which they now perform—your thigh, melting into mine, signing need in ways that thoroughbred bourgeois could never contemplate. As through a fog, a haze, I nod and smile at wasted words floating above, like dandelion seeds waiting for the wind to lift them to a purpose. The heat, liquid, pouring off you like ten miles of concrete. In Calcutta. I remind myself to breathe. I apply pressure, as to a gushing wound. Folds of fabric can barely tame our flesh, locked in call-and-response. I think, in that boundless abandon, to offer my whispered confession to you …
… If only I could remember your name.