DeShara Suggs-Joe is a queer, Black poet and visual artist. She co-founded Daughter’s Tongue (an all-women writing collective), worked as the Creative Director of Workshops at Winter Tangerine, and is a former member of the Youth Speaks Collective. She received her MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts and fellowships from Callaloo, the Poetry Incubator, and Pink Door. In 2021, she received a nomination for "Best of the Net." She has published poems in Apogee Lit, Voicemail Poems, Poet Lore, The Texas Review, and elsewhere. She has also been featured on Button Poetry’s YouTube platform and has performed at the likes of Spotify, Yahoo, and Pinterest. Her debut chapbook is forthcoming from Button Poetry in April 2024. Visit her website and follow her on Instagram.
Ode to the People Who Have Touched the Bottom
I was born
in a brokedown city
some call it home
some call it rockbottom
bottom of the barrel
crabs laughing in unison
and me, I ran so fast
my feet dissolved or
dissipated the ground
It’s funny or generous
to be home and love
it make it your own
wrap yourself in
til it stings
til your muscles remember
til your momma’s calling
cause your daddy don’t
know where the door is
it’s funny right how home shapes
your insides til you’re outside
yourself wondering what it takes
to survive a place
& yet, a bomb never
searched for my blood, FREE PALESTINE
Never been trapped between
rival bullets & forced from home, FREE SUDAN
Never had a cell phone be worth
more than me living, FREE THE CONGO
Never had to fight over
the way the river flows, FREE HAITI
Never earthquaked & left
for dead, FREE PUERTO RICO
Never had fire sing her song
all over my land, FREE HAWAII
FREE FREE FREE FREE
ALL OPPRESSED PEOPLE
from the foot of the oppressor
& let our voices marry
into a weapon strong enough
What is justice but a well wish?
An unsung lullaby? A tall tale?
An unleaked battle cry?
Waiting and wading?
A knife in a nuke fight?
Are there black people in the future?
Are there poor people in the future?
Are there queer people in the future?
Are there trees in the future?
Is there fresh water in the future?
Are there poets in the future?
Is there a future that I should long for?
Is there a future that I should fight for?
When will the meek inherit the earth?
In this lifetime or the next or the next or?
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