Ending Credits / And In The End, They Still Live

July 27, 2022 · Poetry + Short Stories

Two compelling poems about the grief and pain that comes with the experience of being Black in the United States.

Featured image: Digital illustration of Black folks and family at a cookout. A child smiles while hugging a woman in the foreground. Image by Kiki Lechuga-Dupont.
Featured image: A digital illustration of Black folks/family at a cookout. A child smiles while hugging a woman in the foreground. Illustration by Kiki Lechuga-Dupont.

Ending Credits

When will we finally stop speaking life into caskets?

When will they show respect for a breathing body?

There are rules to whose blackness should be protected,
And a death certificate waiting for my name to be printed on it.
Waiting for our names to become simply just that,
A phrase. That will never be said loud enough to break silence.
Our names don’t even warrant the dignity of pronunciation.
They find no point in making a correction of a soul that can’t speak for itself anymore.
And even when they could, they never blinked an eye in that direction in the first place.
How we exist, invisible, and a target all at once. 
How we familiarize ourselves with mortality, long before grasping the idea of living.

How many buried bodies does it take to finally preserve the living?

How many ways can you murder me before finally being satisfied with the outcome?

I’m sure, soil is confused as to why we’re taking up so much of it’s space. 
That four walls can recognize the afflictions of our voice so easily now. 
I’ve seen my afterlife displayed for the whole world’s consumption.
Too many obituaries on standby.
Too many days filled with the prediction of mourning. 

So I ask, what’s a black life without already being labeled as a martyr? 
Without already having a home underground?
With knowing your death is no more than a replication. 

* * *

And In The End, They Still Live. Ode to Danez Smith’s “Dinosaurs in the Hood”

I want a film,
Where the ending credits aren’t a eulogy.
Where the last scene isn’t a mother getting ready for a funeral,
A child lacking their father,
A black screen calling for a moment of silence,
Or a 5 year glance into the future of a life,
Where one is not existing anymore.

A movie where the end is so unpredictable, I want it to be everlasting.
So present of life, I feel detached from reality for just a second.
Even if it means that one second will never be someone’s truth.
Even if it means I need to hibernate in the theater moments after so it doesn’t leave me.
I don’t need another movie immortalizing the death of a life that should’ve lived after the first
Don’t need another movie, where the title is an ode to a body that won’t be here to witness it

Since when did black death become such a popular genre? 

I’ve learned to accept the slaughter of a black life is profitable on and off the camera.
That there will always be an audience for a lynching. 
How entrancing people will find a mutilated corpse.
How pretty my afterlife is….

Why does appreciation of a Black life always have to be through death?
How many more spaces will force themselves to be memorials?
How familiar our wardrobes became to knowing all black in case of unexpected mournings. 

Who writes with the purpose of healing the hurt nowadays?
Who views a black being and doesn’t visualize how pretty they can make our caskets? 

I’ve seen my death be written and directed with so much detail.
How many shots until this body has reached its breaking point? 
We so used to others taking action on our bodies.
So used to others deciding when our scene is over.

I don’t want my life to be someone’s feature film.
Don’t want to be depicted so much, this body now feels imaginary.
Why you gotta make my fantasies violent too?
Why even in dreams death seems so real. 

I want a movie, where my Blackness is not the opponent.
Where my death isn’t the solution to the plot.
A movie that shows love that’s not nurtured by agony. 
A Black woman who’s not the punching bag. 
A Black queer being who’s not the afterthought. 
A movie that makes rest seem attainable. 

Because even in real life, if we never make it past that opening scene,
Never make it to see our names in the ending credits,
Or sometimes, not even make it to the theater itself. 

For once,
Allow our bodies to know what peace is without it being a trick,
Without it being timed,
Without it seeming like a fairy tale.

For once, 
Let us live, 

just this one time.

About the Author: Alycia Kamil is a 21 year old multi-medium freedom fighter from the south side of Chicago who uses the power of words to create movements and spark change. Alycia has been doing on the ground community work for the past 6 years, and is the creator of their own abolitionist based resource hub, Undoing Our Erasure. UOE works to cultivate the building blocks needed to help us achieve our Black liberated future, as well as providing a platform to Black voices across the diaspora that are typically silenced. Aside from their organizing efforts, Alycia has spent the last decade of their life engaging in performing and visual arts, they are a spirited and soul guided singer, actor, and dancer. They co-run a beaded jewelry business named, Watabeads which emphasizes the ancestral importance of storytelling through a myriad of beading styles to pay homage to our Afro-Caribbean descendants. You can access their other forms of mediums through their newly birthed art page, In My Mothers Home.

About the illustrator: Kiki Lechuga-Dupont is a multidisciplinary artist based in Evanston, Illinois. She’s inspired by visual memory and its capacity for emotion and perspective. Though her body of work ranges in subject matter and style, she strives to design pieces that evoke a sense of wonder and mindfulness. When she’s not working, she’s tasting teas, collecting cookbooks, and exploring new drawing techniques.