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
you haven’t never been made in royalty
you have a small heart
and have no idea what to do with it
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. 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
The pond is still.
You are the only one here.
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?
How is your routine reflective of the larger world in which you practice it? And, how does it help and heal you?
Award-winning multi-digital media artist, musician, organizer and filmmaker, Cliff Notez’s 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 (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.