“For Black Boys,” by 2015-2016 Youth Poet Laureate Leija Farr

For Black Boys

Delicate Black boy.
Solider, plum painted spirit,
deep rooted,
dreamer.

I can tell from the oceans
on your bed
that you’ve never been told
you were beautiful.

Mother didn’t remind you
of rainbows in her
malleable insides.
She soaked you in songs but
never self-love.

Never explaining the pink hue
of your lips or the mole
that marked your spine,
you later say mirrors.

And didn’t memorize the
letters of beauty
so you couldn’t recite them,
you didn’t know you’re magic.

That love making on a Sunday
was your conception and
no one could dismiss, that you
had a shine oozing from your collarbone
when you were born at 6am.

You glow in the dark,
you are a poem,
boys can be roses,
boys have hearts,
they need love.

You have amputated your stomach
for relief from
the world.
Relief from what they feed you.

That Black boys don’t need love,
only bullets, that they’ll find warmth
in a barrel before they can
bear a reflection,
they lie to you.

Black boys bleed every month.

They are left with miles
of blood clot,
the hymns of their brothers.

They leak the blood of the murdered,
the red liquid that
drowns concrete,
drowns tomorrow,
drowns the pigment of their skin.
You are a Black boy that sheds.

Finding yourself in these
science experiments with your flesh.
Not wanting to be in pain any longer,
wanting to be told you are flawless,
you are a work of art.

Standing in the light so it can
reveal the shades of magic,
the shades of Black boy beautiful
that paint the world,
but you were never told.
that you are acrylic and
you are unique,
something that takes time to love,
something that takes time to believe in,
your mother should’ve whispered
in her pregnancy to you,

She should have put you to bed
with the words that
hold off revolutions.
Beauty would stop the war.

Women are not the only ones
that need to know their value.
Black boys are human,
these TV’s and politics won’t deny them
of hearts they love,
no matter what.

Delicate Black boy,
you bleed every month.
Your ribs leak the sea of
last night’s massacre.

The next night your legs
will drip and stain like
an unattended Sharpie, you will
crust at the edges of your hips.

Tattoo at the angles of your chin
with those stories.
You go through pain too.
You do not birth humans,
but you birth the world
every single day you wake up,
I tell you.

In a place that will never understand
you are amazing.
In a place that will put fire to you
then say you are callous,
they will burn you
then say you are reckless.

Some mothers won’t tell you
because they think it is feminine
and they want you to prepare
for a battlefield your whole life,
but I tell you.

You are beautiful, you are grand, you are
too permanent to be
unloved.

You will heal this place when it is
full of scabs,
full of scars,
full of stitches,
you will be the one to erase the pain.

Beauty is a tongue you will learn to speak.

Pass this to the young brother on the corner,
who’s been told his body is a mixture
of oil and water. Pass it to every brother,
delicate Black boys,
soldiers,

Beauty is a tongue you will learn to speak.

Leija Farr wrote this poem while she was the 2015-2016 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.
Performed at the Seattle Arts & Lectures 2016/17 Literary Arts Series with Bryan Stevenson, March 28th, 2017.

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