there is no such thing as writers block
for a people who have been
forcibly silenced.

it’s not that we have nothing to say
it’s that we have grown so used to
keeping quiet that we don’t even
remember the words to explain
what happened to us

silence is not a coordinate on this body we can pinpoint
mark with an X
“this is where my father taught me to hate myself”
“this is where my people lost our language”
“this is where my voice died inside of me”

every word feels like a ghost of what i meant to say
does that make sense?

every conversation feels like a eulogy
for some person i haven’t even met yet
do you understand?

this is what happens when a body
is forced to rehearse silence, 
to practice silence until it is perfect, 
to hold silence as a daily ritual
so tightly choreographed
that when you do not hear us speak
we are professionals
consider how many times we have
done this before

so when you ask me why i haven’t been writing
i want to take you back to elementary school
where they showed us diagrams of our bodies
with lungs that breathe
and bones that break
but they never told us where all the feelings go
and i have been trying to figure out
ever since

clung onto man
and pen
and failed to trust

fell into love
and dream
and came out
with skinned knees
from both

so when the doctor asks me what’s wrong
i take off my shirt
give him a pencil
have him trace the muscles on my back
until he finds that point where i stopped standing up for myself when the pressure got too much.

draw an X there,
remember the spot.

how do you treat silence?
how do you prescribe that?
how do you teach a body to stop
speaking itself out of existence?

in this world a diagnosis requires words
and there are no words for this

there is just me
and this emptiness

there is just me
and this emptiness

there is just me
and this emptiness.

and that is enough.

maybe we are so silent
because we have been made terrified
of what we are capable of saying

because i don’t remember my first word
but i can tell you that every time i write it feels like i am speaking for the first time again

i have looked in mirrors my entire life and not recognized the face
staring back
until i wrote a poem and remembered what i look like on the inside

and i do not believe in god
but i have seen my own hands make things that i do not recognize with my own eyes

our art is a ceremony
to remember all of the feelings
we had to kill
just to survive

our poetry
is self medication
administered through the
tongue in lethal doses

consume it at your own risk

and until then,
you have the right to remain silent.

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