My first fear is that when I'm at the train station and the intercom lady says “if you see something that doesn't look right”, a hoard of men comes and yanks me away from the train station platform.
My second fear is that when I'm at the edge of the train station platform and the intercom lady says “if you see something that doesn't look right”, people around me won't see that I don't look right.
My third fear is unfulfilled potential.
My fourth fear is the intercom lady.
My fifth fear is fear itself.
My sixth fear is a recurring dream of me trying to take an antidepressant on the edge of the train station platform and the pill rolls onto the tracks as a fast train is incoming, and that is a metaphor for something.
My seventh fear is feeling blue on the platform, but people not seeing me because they don't see colour.
My eighth fear is falling in love with the intercom lady.
My ninth fear is falling in love.
My tenth fear is falling.
My eleventh fear is unfulfilled potential.
My twelfth fear is repeating myself.
My thirteenth fear is writing poetic metaphors for suicides and only receiving clicks
My fourteenth fear is a publisher asking to publish my Black pain for clicks
My fifteenth fear is asking myself to churn out pain for clicks
My sixteenth fear is waiting too long on the platform on the way to the Black barbershop
My seventeenth fear is the Black barbershop
My eighteenth fear is the barber charging me extra for a fade
My nineteenth fear is the barber pushing my edges too far back like my father
My twentieth fear is getting a cut that makes me look like my father
My twenty-first fear is knowing that in the mirror we always look like the parent who's scorn us
My twenty-second fear is scorn
My thirtieth fear is recounting pain
My fiftieth fear is losing count
And as the 1250 to London Bridge arrives,
I mind the gap and sit down and take a breath and thank my lucky stars that I am still alive
I heard another one of us didn't make it through the night
I take my name and try it out for size in my mouth,
Swivel it around to see how it feels,
and hide it safe behind my teeth,
Away from all men to see.
I promise myself that at the end of this day
At the end of these triggers,
There are poems waiting for me
Poems of joy and love lost and love regained
Poems of love not toxic
Poems of men who love other men and don't find any fault with that,
Poems of men taking care of their mental,
Poems of Black men embracing at the barbershop,
Poems of Black men loving at the barbershop,
Poems of black arms surrounding me with shoulders and arms that won't cut my throat if I let my love for another man escape the safe jail I've created behind my teeth, the safe silence I sit in when I'm on the Black chair,
Poems of black love,
Poems of black belonging
Poems of home and all the black faces that look like it.