Candice Iloh
| THREE POEMS

people don’t understand that you are scared.

for Ronald Savage
“I was just a child.[...].why did he take my innocence away? Why did he do this
to me?” - Savage describes his experience as a teenager in the Bronx, where he says he
was molested by hip-hop legend Afrika Bambaataa
go back there to that bedroom where the tv flicker on
watch the tv screen glow with light and wonder
watch the man on the tv oh watch him light the dark
watch the man enter this room sudden

watch the tv screen glow with light and wonder
I wonder how many small boxes it take to make this scene
watch the man enter this room sudden
this scene move quick like the tongue of a man good with words

I wonder how many small boxes it take to make this scene
before I knew it I was an unfortunate act on the first show I watched
this scene move quick like the tongue of a man good with words
the founding father found me here knowing the first makes all the rules

before I knew it I was an unfortunate act on the first show I watched
watch the man on the tv oh watch him light the dark
the founding father found me here knowing the first makes all the rules
go back there to that bedroom where the tv flicker on; watch the show, remember the lines

blame.

you know
just after they bloody your face
they call you the the savage, the thug
for hitting back, for seeking a bandage
for screaming out in agony, your flesh
becoming victim of amnesia and
they will not recall it
they will not recall it
why are you mad
they will ask

you know
you have brought this on yourself
thinking you could walk these streets
with your chin up
your fists ready
your chest
rising

and then it comes to you:

look, America, you say
i tried to be better for you
really i tried to be pearl and crossed ankle,   to keep

the peace

i thought i knew how this worked, how
to stop you from being so afraid
at the sight of this skin

this flesh.

1
Listen.
I only wanted to get to work.
And I just got out of the dollar cab. I was fortunate enough to grab the passenger seat, beside the driver. The driver says I think I’m special.

2
Already the men see something they like. Something they assume they can have. All 10 voices offer me a ride. Today, all of them have decided to be cab drivers, will take me wherever I want to go. Letting out indiscreet howls when my back was turned to them, crossing the street to catch the train.

3
It hasn’t even been 20 fucking minutes after conceding to leave the safety of my home and their want is perched loudly at the curb, can not avoid the tunneled eyes, the panting breath too close. can feel their skin on mine, reach for my bag, my phone, my wallet, my own hands. Need to know I am something other than meat.

4
How not to be sold in a perpetual display case. Someone has told these men they can afford me, that i am easily attainable. Somehow I am responsible for this insatiable hunger. I cross my arms over my body. Or. clench my fists. Or stuff them into pockets. Have to make sure I am still here.

5
What is choice, even? It is either I dangle before the wolves or am left to starve.