SPECIAL ISSUE: Say Her Name
This number is slapped right across my
Shirt printed boldly and loudly.
So that I have become a face hidden
Lost my identity and for this moment
I have no name because someone has
Take the time to show me just where my
Place is in this world.
Directed me to where I belong.
That I am no more than a number
Crafted from the minds of those
Who want to push me further into obscurity,
When I became Miss. 585,
It no longer
Mattered that I was a girl with a head full of
Dreams and a heart full of unwritten notes.
I was simply put in my place
and the truth of my numerical existence
You see all my life I've been numbered
amongst the rest.
A mathematician's calculation
Where 5+8+5 equals 18.
The year the crossroads of my
Childhood and adulthood,
Girlhood and womanhood seemed to
Were allowed to meet.
Thrusting me into confusion
About the most appropriate way to express
Where the artist had taken over my soul
And mind and I could no longer speak with
When I became Miss 585
I was reminded that there is no room in this
World for a black girl.
That no matter how far we've come from
The days where someone like me couldn't
Stand here before you,
Without a chain around her neck.
Hands shackled together.
Clothing torn from her dark flesh
As her breasts are exposed.
Her nakedness paraded.
And she too has a number.
A price tag over her head
Her name is for naught
Because she is a number
Being sold for to the highest bidder.
Change in the dark.
When I became 585
I was reminded that silence
Means far more than words
And the 585 words of scorn perpetuated
By those who believe my skin is
By the hot African sun
Baking me to a crisp
Are still accompanied by 585 more
Thoughts of silent
Secret, deadly wishes
By those who believe
That someone like me
Should never belong.
That I belong to a cursed race.
So with 585 do they attempt to eliminate
Tell me there is no place for me.
There is no place amongst me.
No place for my race.
That this mind cannot create.
That a woman has no use except to
That this body will never be beautiful
Because this black girl be back packing
That this hair be wild and unkempt
And that I must assimilate to fit the mold.
That 585 must straighten her hair.
Lose several pounds
Learn not to talk ghetto
So that maybe one day they can bleed the
Colour out of her.
With the hope that they won't misplace her
In the daytime anymore.
So that Mrs. 10400585 can stand here
Just like her ancestors being sold to the
And when the transaction is done
And they've stripped her of her race,
She will be left with the notion that she had
Nothing to offer in this life except 585.
The price of her worth.
Tell Them (Blackbird)
He cuffed you
Left your skull
Sprawled open across the concrete
Your face buried deep in soil
And even through the glare of
The screen I can feel my gut
Being wrenched apart,
Riveted by the image of you.
Your humanity stripped out of your hand
Because someone took one look at you
And determined that you did not deserve to live
Broken by the knowledge
That somewhere there is a young
Black girl being struck down
For baring her flesh like a offense
They have declared war on you
Stripped you of all dignity
Your soul commissioned
For little more than test dummies
Only fit for the consumption
Of the bullet during target practice.
You sobbed loudly,
Blared your voice to the wind
You were beyond wide eyed with fear
The only words that seemed to slip
From your lips
"Someone help! Go get my mama, He's going to kill me!"
He's. Going. To. Kill. Me
Your eyes, a wide eyed pool of fear
How he thrashed you beside
The swimming pool
His only words
"Stay down! I told you to stay down!"
The war has been declared,
And this battle is not yours alone
It is my fight too.
The day they cuffed you
The day the sought your blood
They pummelled all of us, Blackbird.
We lay on the pavement next to you
Our daughters, sons
begging us for mercy
Because there are some songs
That can never be silenced
And no matter how they portray you
No matter what they say,
Stand pretty blackbird,
Show them your bruises and your scars
One day when they ask you
Where they came from,
Tell them that your skin
Is simply a musicians canvas
And these are the notes
To that old Nina Simone song
If they ever attempt to co write you
Turn your flesh into a collaborative effort,
Tell them about Rosa Parks
And Lena Horne
Eartha kitt and Maya Angelou
And how even the caged bird will
Sing its final song.
Tell them about Harriet, and this woman
Called moses, could shotgun her way
Tell them about Assata Shakur
And Billie holiday
Tell them about Ruby Dee
And Lorraine hansbury,
And how this raisin could never dry up
In the sun.
They came for you last night
And your breathes expelled with
Such force, even I could hear them
They have incarcerated your innocence
But do not succumb to your fear
And when they question you
Lacerate your confidence with indignation
Tell them this for me, Blackbird
Tell them for all of us!
Tell them, that you've got a whole orchestra
Infused into your bloodstream
And that your story reads
Like the world's greatest epic
Then smile brightly blackbird
Sing loudly like Winnie,
And tell them
That your song
Is the never ending anthem
It's tune the rich melody of
Every single black bird who came before you.
And it cannot be silenced.
Melodic Rose is a spoken word artist from Montreal. She has written poetry for 15 years. She believes that poetry should be a transcendent experience. That true poetry comes from artistic and emotional vulnerability and at the heart of it, should reflect the distinct voices and nuances of the human experience. Melodic Rose hopes to reflect this philosophy through her work, by producing art that is unbound by the confines of race, gender or political affiliation but will continue to challenge and inspire others to live with complete authenticity. Her poems, "Revolution and Sanctum," were published by Poetic Matrix. "A 2015 Media Portrayal for Vincent Van Gogh" was also published by On The Grid (an online zine dedicated to mental health) and her chapbook The Ephemorphosis was just selected for publication with Prolific Press (2016).