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.


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