TRANSFIGURATION by Vernon Jordan, III

In the summertime, Black boys disappear; i go into the movie with this knowledge.

i am one of 9 people in this movie Theatre, and an older Black man sits in the opposite aisle, a ways behind me in this small auditorium. When the trailers play i am not worried about my body and i eat with grace, thankful for my stomach -- my senses standing at the taste of popcorn, my teeth grinding against popcorn, my tongue bobbing

the latest flavors of Skittles -- and none of this is new. Going to the movies can feel as daily as piss, as breathing.

 

My mouth waits for water.

the lights settle themselves, and the big screen creates halos on our faces: we are about to changed. like chemical. like reaction. and at the film’s first image of the Black boy, Milo, lapping up blood from a victim in the bathroom of the Staten Island ferry, I think of what blood the world has taken from him, what was shredded and shed and shed for him to be there - one barely bloody hand keeping him balanced  for this meal. and i wonder, if anyone has attempted to suck a life-force out of me when i walk through the Staten Island Ferry station everyday? i'm sure of it.

 

My mouth waits for water, his mouth overflows with blood.

 

In the summertime, boys with darker skin are more likely to go to Heaven, and i am sitting through the movie with this knowledge, and i am wondering what season this movie takes place in, and why in any season must the Black boy always and only and continually find Heaven in a White girl lost in the world. As Vampire, i thought he would know burden of Sunlight, hyper rays, and hyper-raced, burning flesh. Maybe i expect too much. i want to know what his Momma taught him. She is in the film for maybe five minutes. She is regarded as the thing that "just happened".

 

It reminds me of when i say things like, "I'm just here", how language is not the barrier but the bridge. And how to be a boy in the world who wants to be a void, who wants to cupped and held with warm hands, who wants his body distant and pleasurable? Go to the movies alone.

 

In the summertime, Black boys die. By the end of this film i am reminded of this knowledge, unsettled in its facts, three times. Milo looks out the window at it all, and we're watching at him have this look. If we're properly seduced, we're not sure who the ghost in the theater is: the movie characters or us. Later, Milo is told that the boys who run the gang weren't killed by any of those earlier bullets, but certainly arrested. at the grand finale of the picture, my jaw hangs low for Milo, who loved bodies and all the blood inside them so much, that he betrays the motion of life for the stillness of death. just a body. just a body. am i supposed to walk away and pretend Milo is just a body? i watch that cinematic death, how they unclip the Black boy's chest. And for a while, i sit.

 

What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?

 

Emerging Poet seems to be about not being wholly recognized by many of the professional poetry communities and circles. A title for a person whose work has little been seen, who is new to publishing, or performing on big stages.

 

Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?

 

I don't consider myself an "emerging" poet only because I've been practicing poetry about 8 or 9 years now. But I am still learning, and certainly still falling in love with, trying to pay more attention to, the craft. 

 

What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?

 

Good work, hopefully. Sometimes it is a matter of privilege and access. But I would really hope good, and genuine work gets you there. 

 

How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?

 

Politics of power shapes any community--poets, and artists at large, are never immune to that. The way we're taught to think through, talk about, represent, meditate on ideas and the world around us is wrapped up in power--often from the bodies and ideologies that directly benefit from those normalized ways of thinking, those who stand the least to lose. Poetry, like anything else, is capable of reproducing some messed up shit where power is concerned. 

 

What does community mean to you?

 

Community...I wish I had a solid answer. And I don't. I know it has a lot to do with safety, looking out for your loved ones, being a village, lifting as you climb. It's something that's changing, community--I thin about social media, and how sometimes I feel very deeply I have a community in/on those online spaces, but then again I don't know. Ideally, community feels like love, like care. 

 

VERNON JORDAN, III (King V, on the mic) is a Philly-born ‘n raised writer, filmmaker, and poet, interested in stories about the interior lives of Black people. He has a lifelong fascination with the supernatural and otherwise speculative/magical/funky shit. Recently graduated from Muhlenberg College (’16) with a BA in a self-designed major called Black Voice and Cultural Studies, Vernon has led creative writing and film workshops at colleges and universities, and his senior thesis short film, "See My Dreams Come True", has played at over five national and international festivals. Vernon is now in NYC as a Screenwriting MFA candidate at Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema (’19). Find more of his prose and poetry work on Huffington Post, The Establishment, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Catapult Community.

 

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