A time for remembering

It has been quite some time since I shared new work with you, I’ve been so busy with Daemonologie, my course, and paid work that the chance to update this space kept passing me by.

I’m going to share something that feels personal to me but which is particular to every Black person living in the postcolonial. A poem about a man who was not the perfect victim but whose death relit the fire that roils at the heart of those United States.

Where there is no justice, there will be no peace


Today, Derek Chauvin is legally a murderer.


Every few years I write this poem,
Where I list names and say years
And rail against injustice,
Then I tuck away the pain.


It is 2021 and Daunte Wright is dead,
And Adam Toledo is dead, and Mohammed Hassan is dead.
It is 2020 and George Floyd is dead,
And Breonna Taylor is dead, and Manuel Ellis is dead
And Daniel Prude is dead.
It is 2019 and Elijah McClain is dead,
And Willie McCoy is dead, and
It is…any year and every year.


Every few years the people burst,
We take to the streets and speak out
And demand no more,
Then we tuck away the pain.


It is 2021 and Uncle Tony tells me
That the problem of race is solved.
It is 2021 and you would imagine a
Prince of the blood had joined with Jezebel.
It is 2021 and a man is shouting Africa
At my mother and my aunties.
It is 2021 and whenever a black voice
Dissents, I dare not peruse the comments.


Today, Derek Chauvin is legally a murderer –
Relief overran the banks of many minds,
To touch hard seeds of hope,
Washing the soil of cynicism.
We hung in the balance of our paroxysm:
Was it to be grief, or joy, or rage?
But today, unlike so many days,
The murderer is named by his deed.


Know the date, mark the time,
It is today, it is April 20th 2021,
It is almost midnight,
I say to myself two things –
When will I write this poem again?
And when I do, where will I tuck the pain?


But today, for now,
I look at a photograph
Of a murderer in his chains,
And I smile.


C.D. Brown

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The Emperor

From March 2019 to Febuary 2020, I worked as a pastoral officer for sixth formers, readying to go to university. I found that none of the students had been offered theatre as an option as A-levels, even as an extracurricular.

I went about fixing this by running a twelve-week after school drama club, and we had great ambitions to do a play with them before I departed. My time there would draw to a close, what with being on a maternity contract.

And so, I wrote for them The Emperor. An adaptation of Julius Caesar set in 1920s New York and everybody would get to be a gangster. Because it’s damn fun to play a mobster. I wanted to put these kids, with such a natural talent for acting, up on a stage with the same material I’d give to adults.

I did cut the worst swear words and all the kissing for the version they were meant to perform. I cannot even imagine the uproar from the religiously conservative parents had there been boys kissing in the drama studio. Imagine, if you will, the scandalised gasps.

Sadly, we didn’t get to do The Emperor, instead we switched plays twice (once to Child of the Grey) before we settled on a showcase of short plays (The House of Silence). I won’t get to do The Emperor with those kids, but I can share it with all of you.

My hope for this is to one day make it into a film, inspired by Joel Edgerton’s work with The King. That’s something to keep in mind too when having a read.

(Click here to read The Emperor)

The eagle that drags the sun

Some while ago, during the course of my Masters, I shared with you a poetry sequence called In Colchis. This was based on the mythological character of Medea and her relationship with her family on Colchis, transposed to a modern setting, almost like our present time. The perspective of Aeetes, Medea’s father, was explored and his world was torn.

I present to you the story after Medea and Jason, once they come to Corinth, and Medea finds herself alienated.

Between the two are poetic retellings of the lives of less prolific mythic figures.

Here is: The Eagle That Drags The Sun.

 

I wear glasses now

The summer solstice has passed, there is life everywhere, and I will doubtless have a splendid time in the sun. Yet, this year, and last year, loss stole in and marked this time for me. None of it expected. All of it brought people together.

I have not written about a friend’s death for years now but I have tried to again. Below is my attempt.

Sunlight on a stranger

Beautiful strangers on trains:

We have all seen them,

And all have one

That sticks and stays

To come again on lonely trips.

He is devastating,

In that sense of understanding

What I lack.

That I cannot know him

That whatever he is doing

Whatever he is writing,

Exists ten feet away

Yet functionally an expanse.

Sunlight seems to cling to him,

The day glorying in his studied expression;

Sunlight seems to live on him,

He had stepped out of a portrait

In a style since abandoned

For its perfections did not suit dim reality.

Eyes meet, and that will be knowledge,

All the knowing we have of one another,

Made up and unmade in a second,

I am left with the memory of

Sunlight on a stranger.

Affection’s many faces

Listen here you stupid cunt, I love you yeah?

Shut up whore, gimme a hug

I love you, you fucking reprobate

Don’t touch me! Love you bitch

Give me your big head so I can hug it and also make fun of your big head

But no really, I do care about you deeply

These are things I say to my friends

Stop being so silly

You’re a ridiculous woman

You’re so bad at singing

Please don’t fart you’ll clear the room

Have you dyed your hair again?

I love you so much

These are things I say to my mum

You’re the worst

You can’t just say you’ve won!

Yeah you’re right, that’s shit

I don’t know why white people like it either

At least you’ve learned to blend

We’ve got each other but don’t tell anyone I was nice to you yeah?

These are things I say to my sister

You’re a dirty old man and you’re not even fifty

Why do you hate art?

That’s a rubbish joke

I don’t want to watch Air Crash Investigations before we get on a plane

Haven’t you see this war film like eight times? Oh it’s a different one? Can’t tell

You’ll always be family, no matter what

These are things I say to my dad

C’mere you little asshole

Don’t avoid me you little bitch

Let me love you you bastard

I’m going to steal you

I’ll get you one day

Fine suit yourself…

These are legitimately things I have said to cats

Romance is grand to have

Being alone is easy at times

But never forget

Affection’s many faces

A First Impression: An Hesselius Tale

This was the little neo-Victoriana Gothic ditty which gained me a favourable reference for my MA a year ago, as British Gothic, and I would like to share it in its collected form A First Impression: A Hesselius Tale.

I borrow Sheridan Le Fanu’s Dr Martin Hesselius and recast him as a curmudgeonly magician, with a new assistant (to the tune of Conan Doyle), the eight fingered Mr Joseph Freer, a former surgeon with a troubled past. I hope to soon begin work on another Hesselius tale, a reworking of Carmilla for some vampiric action, under the title Une Femme Nocturne. And then you can expect a werewolf visitation from Clothed In Moonlight. No more promises though, go enjoy the story!