Lolo W

puddle kingdom

A little monster clogged my drain

Forced its mouth to bend

Space

Eat his blue

Now, an amphitheater for sad songs

Hell grumbled in protest

Used to stomaching bullshit, most of all, mine

But his shit just sad

Threw up a little onto my shins

Burped admonitions

Because sadness that is fed

Allowed to balloon outside of dead grandparents

The day your lover tells you they want to fuck someone

else

Is indulgent

Yet, this thing living in my pipes persists in monstrosity

Says so proudly from his drain-cum-pulpit

Seems to welcome shame

Like eye-contact for more than a few seconds or double

texts

He doesn’t zip-tie his mourning

Take bereavement leave and come back new like the rest

of us

He clings

Yellow lights under tunnels that stay with you long after

you come up for

Air

Fills a corset to the brim

Making it hard to breathe

Heart races next to a police car

Blinking blue knowing red can happen if you’re black

Sightless eyes

Swollen from all that salt

Search me, nonetheless

Mouth on the move

As if dislocated from the reality of injury

Levels kingdoms and builds newer, bluer, shame-ridden

ones in their place

King of the dazed and confused

So obviously wretched it turns your stomach

You find it hard to look away

Even when you should

My shower drain

Now backed up by a cacophony of blue

Bubbles multiverses

Where it doesn’t matter who cares less and it’s not

expensive to be sad

It just makes sense

Turn brown once they break and are exposed to air

A grown- up sadness

One who honors the crying as much as the still-living

Teaches me how to howl

Teaches me to hold others in my howling

I used to dream of grandfather’s stubble scratching my

face

Crawling back into time when it hurt so good

The womb which is really a prologue

Lately it is the black curtain the little monster wears

His crown

Whispers come here, come here

Tells me to be ugly for as long as I need today

Even though there is company

To join the black parade

Resist reconciliation

Even though there is an audience clamoring for it

Never let anyone convince me living a good life has to

make me happy

Hum its blue song long after I finish washing up

As I am writing this from my phone at the front desk of a bodega, a man with a cloth mask tucked under his chin is putting up a plaque outside the building that reads, “we are not liable for COVID-19 related injuries or deaths”— I am not in my body. Instead, two small hands stretched by blue nylon are smoothly waving at customers, typing, deleting, scanning product, layering goods in non-reusable plastic bags, efficient, high-yielding, now that they are dislocated from the person full of synonyms, murmuring six-letter words to keep back the buzzing in their head and their eyes open.

Though my mouth is numb and I can’t feel the shapes it makes around words, I’ve learned some are more believable coming from me than others, that you have to be quick with lies, and silence— by itself, naturally dangled, delayed not for affect, but in its struggle to become sound— is suspicious. The store-owner asks me how I am every morning. My “fines” are often too curt and the “goods” always land like the punchline to a joke I’m not sure why I find funny. This morning, I put three extra As in “okay.” Something about the way those letters linger, my thousand- mile stare, or the fact that he can’t easily project a smile onto my face is disruptive enough that he loses count of the change. I misplace enthusiasm onto anything other than me to avoid further questions. My words are no longer weighted by my being, now light and easy as I ask about his newborn son. The record continues unbroken. And for a second, everyone is convinced, including me, that songbirds can’t be unhappy.

How am I? Tired and too broke, fat, and aware of this world to be. Before it was the running from my mind or my life when both revealed themselves to be, at their heart, in conflict. Then it was the staying, squaring my shoulders, pulling from the diaphragm, shoving all the sticky things somewhere deeper, digging my heels in hostile land and making it work. Now, I’m just fucking tired, dawg.

Most of my writing deals with Mad politics, and the word “Mad,” in all its colors, trembling, violence, and disquiet, is one I am very familiar with. I’ve spent the last several years advocating for Mad people as a writer and organizer, with a particular focus on drug-using, poor, black, and queer communities. Communities that are surveilled and punished by the State simply because their existence itself represents a threat to normality. I think Madness is not only characterized by this disruption but is a replication of the ways our world is likewise disrupted by racial capitalism. And I know that the people who are the most vulnerable in this world are the most at-risk for mental illness, feeling at odds with their minds when they wake up in the morning. We are people after the shattering remembering those few seconds before impact, while everyone else is brushing glass off their shoulders, heading out for brunch. And we are fucking tired.

Lolo W. (He/Him/His) is a black trans storyteller who recently graduated from Howard University with a degree in African-American Studies. He’s spent the better half of a decade telling stories about same-sex loving and gender-transgressive communities, mad folk, hustlers, people who use drugs, and others whose living material undoubtedly contributes to Africana cultural production and the global efforts against white supremacy, yet are so often erased from resistance narratives. As an anti-racist organizer and creative writer, he locates impossible people, their desires, the worlds they build around them, squarely in Africa’s intellectual genealogy. His work affirms that impossible people are in a better position to critique racial capitalism, because they live more radically outside of it, and that their daily lives represent a critical reimagining of what is normal and just. In everything he does, he strives to be more impossible, write and love even when, especially when, it feels impossible, embody the kind of world that embraces people who defy logic. Whether it’s through spotify playlists, syringe-exchange, poetry, ritual, He is learning to hold his impossible body, and in turn, to hold his siblings across the globe. Whales and Drake’s third-studio album Nothing Was the Same are what keep him going.

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