This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Kirsten Kowalewski, is from Body Not My Own by Tanque R. Jones, released by Wayne State University Press in 2021.
content warning for slavery
With a net capture youth, collar him about the prime of life, drag her into old age. A day unto eight months unto sixty years. Men, women no longer men and women. Un-human. Now male or female, labels to denote breeding class. A Chloe’s worth twice as much as a Ruth, get two browns for the price of one yellow, darkies half off. A floating abacus— black body beads shifted from one side to the other.
Ignorance doles out benevolence. How much tenderer the wound if they knew of the power afforded the true owners of their names. Better black Homer not command the words to transcribe this odyssey or the goddess of hate. July knows only that he was born during the hottest month that summer, not which day or of ancient rulers. On a Charleston plantation Paris will be found. He doesn’t possess explanations to life’s riddles. No slave touches such notions as beauty or prosperity. Even Venus is unaccustomed to love, her sex and fertility perverted. Monikers meant to mock missing the attachment of a last name to imply they belong. All property belonging to no one.
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