Completely Dishonest

by Cliff Notez

To live in this skin,
When being completely dishonest with the world
Do not tell them how you snore like lightning 
Tell them that you are only 5’9’’
Tell them you hate to read 
Do not tell them that you are ticklish 
 
Tell them you never hit your head on things
Tell them that you love allergies 
you are always politically correct
you loved college 
you were the man in High School 
tell them you have the best exes 
and you love them all 
 
Do not tell them 
off your gapped tooth smile
how it stands large to overcompensate
how you couldn’t pronounce your childhood nickname
It was Cliffy
But you called yourself “fee fee” 
When you are older
And they butcher your last name; “Bonner-desravines”
Tell them they are right 
Give them notez 
Let them cheat on you
Tell them you never got bullied in middle school 
Tell them your size always made you a smaller target
 
When being completely dishonest;
Tell them your skin is a definition
Tell them your hair is a playground 
Tell them to call you “my nigga” 
Tell them to call you a “nigger” 
Tell them the word ‘nigga’ is always acceptable
Tell them you’ve never been offended
Tell them you’ve never been confused by privilege
Tell them that racism doesn’t make your neck shrivel
 
Tell them you are confident 
Tell them you believe in yourself 
Tell them you are grandeur of pride 
That brilliant words 
Naturally stumble off your tongue 
Tell them that you were telling the truth

Tell them nothing happened when you were five
Tell them you have never been lonely
Tell them you have never cried
Tell them you have never been insecure 
Do not tell them something happened when you were five
When they ask if you have been depressed
Tell them, “no” 
When they ask if you tried to kill yourself
Tell them “yes.” 
say it timidly 
Tell them you don’t think that’s a great accomplishment 
When they ask if you were suicidal 
Tell them, “maybe”
Tell them that these are the same exact thing 
 
Tell them that all of this matters in your present
Tell them that your future isn’t present 
Tell them that your presence isn’t present 
 
You are Disdain and broken 
You are not broken
You are just flawed 
There is no fix 
 
When being completely dishonest
Do not tell them how you.
When being completely dishonest
Tell them you are dead
A carcass of a soul 
Shivering in a casket of regrets
Hoping to never resurrect 
With no spirit
No purpose and soul
 
Tell them 
you haven’t never been made in royalty
tell them 
you have a small heart 
and have no idea what to do with it

Writing Prompt: 
Write something telling nothing but lies. Make sure to address the fact that you are lying.

Tomorrow After the End of the World

by Emily Duggan

When you wake, the streets are still
empty. Sunlight bakes them like braids of bread. You’re
alone, still
alone. You walk around the pond, the only one doing so —
the city is still asleep. The dreaming still
inhabit yesterday. But, here, it’s tomorrow.
It’s finally come. Now, there is only to grow
old enough to forget the memories
of yesterday’s shifting face, its towns
of countenances. Joyful-
ly, you think: Someday I will
have forgotten it all
.
The epitaphs eroded. The spare air
rust. The obituaries ash in a landfill.
The names dust in a mouth that’s dust.
The back breaks in your brain, where they all still
live today. As names. As dreams. To be dreamless until
all days end! Today, the forgetting begins. No one
can ask you, now, to remember — to hold them any longer,
like a refrigerator truck. Not even the dead can ask that
aloud. 
 
The pond is still.
You are the only one here.

Writing Prompt:
Think about something that haunts, plagues, or just plain bothers you. Imagine waking up the morning after it no longer can. What do you do?

OR

How is your routine reflective of the larger world in which you practice it? And, how does it help and heal you?


Cliff Notez

Award-winning multi-digital media artist, musician, organizer and filmmaker, Cliff Notezs art is a continuous exploration of the black mind.

Rooted in hip hop, their art tackles the political and the personal, exploring the intimate consequences of a society where black bodies are easily ignored, forgotten, or disregarded. Cliff’s second full-length album, Why The Wild Things Are, was released September 11th, 2019. Their films have won over 5 and been official selections for 20 and counting film festivals globally. In 2017 they was the grand prize winner of the March on Washington Festival and honored alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates.

In 2018 they took home Best New Artist at the Boston Music Awards while racking in over 11 nominations between 2019-2020 including Artist of the Year and Live Artist of the Year. In 2019 Cliff became the first musician to be named “Musician of the Year” for Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston and their 100 Most Influential Bostonians in 2020.


Emily Duggan

Emily Duggan (they/she) earned a BA in Creative Writing from Brandeis University. They have performed their poetry as an ensemble member at Chicago’s Green Mill Jazz Lounge and for the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge, where they have also featured. Their work has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Burnt Pine Journal, and Writers Without Margins, with whom they also facilitate writing workshops. They incorporate poetry into everything they do, including ghost-tour guiding. Learn more about them on Instagram, and purchase their work on their website.