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In hopes that someone who doesn’t look or think like me will read this all the way through, I want to help you see from my perspective why “all lives matter” is the most problematic and infuriating response you can utter from your keyboard. I wonder if you truly understand.

To say someone’s life matters is, at best, a humble statement — at worst, a cry for help. To respond out of your safe, comfortable typing position — to fix your fingers to type these words as a response to people BEGGING to be valued — is to be so…

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Photo by Julian Schultz on Unsplash

It seems I roam
until I gaze long enough
to look
and lay
in beds
but nevertheless
those moments end.

It seems I come and go in search of a home I know exists though I couldn’t describe it if you asked me to I’d tell you that I’m alone by choice by craft I’m sure you were told I am an artist a piece of art with an itch with a knack for words and a niche that hurts I’m sure you’ve heard the simmer, the cooking in your ears these words burn I’m sure you’ve learned I am…

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When my confidence curls into a corner
and my doubts claim my legs like quicksand,
I remember 10 Things I Know To Be True:

1. I’m not dead.
And as long as I have breath,
the good Lord ain’t done with me yet.

2. The way I feel about certain uncomfortable truths
don’t make the true things any less
true.

3. I can speak proper when I want to. But
my native tongue is hood, and
something tells me
you wish yours was too.

4. I am living proof that it can be a curse to be good at too…

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

If you’ve ever wondered
What the big deal is,

Imagine for a second Being dead Not for a second Or for a minute Or for a week Or for a year Imagine death As normative Your daily rhythm You are the zombie The demon The undead heathen that plagued your childhood dreams You are the monster beneath your own bed The reason children scream You are the financier of sex trafficking The one who ignores their friends in their time of need You are the one who overeats While Guilherme sleeps on a fraction of a day’s rations ’Cause the…

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Have you ever had Have you ever thought Have you ever felt So many words that They fumbled in your chest And spilled down to your belly Before they could even make it Off your lips Off your pen You speak like you Off your meds so it's Off with your head so you Keep your shit in until you Break like bread and Drink the blood from your wounds so they Learn to respect but your Tastebuds soon find that shit is Hard to digest so you Try to cry But soon find that You have no tears left…

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Photo by Viktor Juric on Unsplash

I heard your grumbling.
My glory, my glory — why is it always about my glory?
But let me raise you a question:
if not my glory,
then whose?
Yours?
Didn’t we already try that?
My son, get up out of your bag
& off thy high horse.
You wanna be Alpha, King, Author?
Bet. Let’s compare stories.

I read your manuscript, and I won’t call it boring, but it put all of my angels to sleep. I found your plot beneath a heap of debris and rocks — revisions, whiteouts, and red ink where your failures and doubts should…

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Looking for permission.
Approval.
From who?
Let the Spirit move you.
Buffoon. She thought.
What kinda king would make
such a fool of himself in the streets?
Then again. What kinda teen
would take a couple smooth rocks and a sling
to a war with giants?
Maybe King David knew. The same God
that disciplined the lion
was the same God who co-signed his shot
and left a hallowed be my name in the forehead of Goliath,
and left a silence where his pride once clamored,
and left that uncircumcised head severed,
his skull and flesh quiet on a platter.

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Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

My spirit is being stretched from all sides —
clinging to God as I worship the gods I’ve made in my spare time as a wannabe God,
I don’t have peace
because I’ve lost His voice
in the shuffle of noise I call my mind.
I’ll get it back when I move closer,
and actually care to listen,
even if — especially when — what I hear
exposes my treason, my bleeding, my teething, my fleeing —
the voices say I’m a runaway. …

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Photo by Naveen Chandra on Unsplash

Things I (Will) No Longer Need (in 2019)

Awards. Compliments. Starburst Gummies. The pedestal you chained me to. A relationship for the sake of it. Your rusty two cents. Your opinion on my character. Your apology. Your approval. The perceived status boost that came with our friendship. Soda. A chance to flex on my exes. Your body. Your worship. The drama. Your respect. Attention. Late night conversations with narrow minds. And loose lips. And looser hips. Your empathy. Your proper perception of my personhood. A black card. A fresh start. My code switching handbook. A six-pack. An excuse to be…

Benjamin Raji

Harlem-raised. Baltimore-based. Hip-Hop-made. Man of faith. You can find my poetry book, blog, and other cool things → benjaminraji.com

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