Gardens and Carnivores

I am 3/5s divided by two which makes me just shy of nothing but something enough to be hated so much that I could get shot down praising God in church or dancing on a floor the night before.

I grew up in the south where flower gardens can be hidden by fences, but fences can only be one of two colors.

Where faggots wear purple
and things were better before
the colors were allowed to mix
to form purple in the first place.

My fourth grade teacher told the class to envision a person painting a fence white when trying to etch the definition of whitewashing into our minds. I ponder the definition of my blackwashing in my mind. I picture my black stained fence. I picture the garden hidden within my fence.

I got the fence that hides a garden that holds all of the wildest and most exotic of fruit. My garden will nourish and nurture you. My garden will give without taking—my garden doesn't need anything from you.

It just needs you to want it. I got that garden.

Un-watered and full of Flint.

It is just yours. This garden is the mammified void of the love your parents stopped giving you when they got hints of your choice. Hiding lovers because they were male, hiding lovers mostly
because they were black—but your parents didn’t call blacks blacks, and they had choice words for homosexuals; and so did you around them.

We grew like blades of grass,
in the yard of Richard and Mildred Loving
in seasoned state of segregated Sundays and subdivisions
begging to be cut in the summer.

You invited my 16 year old self over.

We held hands in my car. You explored my person as I drove deeper into the wilds of Spotsylvania County. The Orange County border was visible from your house.

We made out in the car, before going into your house. We went straight to his room and closed to the door. I left with plans on seeing you again. I drove home listening to the Parachutes album (back when Coldplay was good)—drifting from that moment in a high that I thought was more than lust.

AOL Instant Messenger greetings went ignored for days, until strangely enough your girlfriend (or someone claiming to be your girlfriend) messaged me saying that I was just your nigger experience.

How hidden was I do you?
How many masks did I have on?

Did you have on a mask?

What did that fence look like?

I thought I relinquished mine.
This fence has no gate.

Respect their preference just as you have respected your love of chicken over beef, your love of Twizzlers over Red Vines, whiskey to gin, summer to winter, IPAs to those others, making out to fucking;

however, I don't advertise those in online dating profiles. Well, maybe the last one.

Cops don't say that they are afraid of blacks,
they just shoot them,
so why are you bringing it up on this fuck app?

I could be the chocolate that melts only for you, coffee roasted so bitter black that you taste the hands that picked the berries, meat for your meat.

Priced and placed on shelves, auction blocks, and in apps.

I will fuck you like the slave you are, my partner says I could have you tonight, you got a BBC, lemme see?

It turns me on when you remove me of my agency and remind me of the 400 plus years of forced labor that my people have endured by the hands of people that look like you. Do you know it still affects us?

I see you like BBC on scruff, but you only posted about the cops that were killed last week. I see you like BBC, nice Confederate Flag.

No one ever talks about queer on queer crime.

Gays killing gays as much as blacks kill blacks
or so they say.

Bayard Rustin wasn't allowed to be pro black and pro gay.  He wrote from jail, arrested for public fellatio in 1955, “I know now that sex for me must be sublimated if I am to live with myself and this world longer.” Then later as Martin Luther King’s advisor and speech writer he wrote, “When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him”; and finally for this piece in the 60s as a pivotal organizer for the civil rights movement,

“You have to join every other movement for the freedom of people.”

I have always been standing in the middle.
Those double Gs between nigger and faggot.

There are too many bullets taking semblances of myself left and right, and its bound to be me one day …

walking from the store, playing with a toy gun, selling loose cigarettes, running out of fear, failing to signal, selling CDs, hitting on the wrong man in the wrong bar, wearing skinny jeans in wrangler country, waiting for the bus while queer, sleeping next to my lover, sleeping on the bus while queer, dressing however the fuck I want, dancing, kissing, gender fucking you, holding hands, being pro black, being queer,
being black,
being black,
being black,
being black,

feel my Pulse.

I am here to cry and write and take in all of those bodies clipped by police, clipped by misunderstanding, clipped by hate,

planted by families, hoping something will grow from the plot but ain't much of anything to reap but the verdant, plucked sour fruit
and a flavor profile written before ripening—
immortalized as sour and bitter.

This garden grows the reddest of tomatoes with rotten cores, dry melons, and acrid greens.

The flowers only attract flies.

There is no black in the rainbow.

This fence holds no garden.



Vernon Keeve III

Vernon Keeve III is a black and queer writer from Virginia, and a high school teacher in Oakland, California. He has been featured at the SF Poetry Jazz Festival, the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and the Oakland Book Festival. His writing has been published in Ishmael Reed's Konch Online Journal, Black Girl Dangerous, Entropy, and Foglifter, and Blues Arrival: Stories of the Queer Black South and Migration; he received the Zora Neale Hurston Award from Naropa University in 2012. His book of poetry and essays, Southern Migrant Mixtape, will be released in January of 2017 with Nomadic Press.


Edited for Unlikely by Rosalyn Spencer, #BlackArtMatters Guest Editor
Last revised on Thursday, September 1, 2016 - 17:35