I Know Shirts I wear get wet, always sticky never dry. Dad says its ‘cause your fat. Only thing Dad knows to say I cry, like tears ever cut him. Dad says ‘cause your fat. I wonder what diet can dry my eyes. Dad says nothing. I ask him what diet can dry my eyes. Dad smacks my face. I cry, like tears ever cut him. Dad says ‘cause your fat. I cry; like tears ever cut him. shirts I wear get wet. Dad says ‘cause your fat. Always sticky never dry I wonder about diets Dad says nothing. I ask about diets dad smacks my face hard. Only thing Dad knows to say Shirts I wear get wet I cry, always sticky never dry. Dad says nothing, like tears Escaping a police state I am in the hull of a ship breathing putrid air I didn't ask for feeling the wetness of undetermined solids. watching skin press and bend and burst and at the height of the sky; a scream at the bottom of night; a splash. A body joined the ocean or the dark Made no difference, no dent just another minor disturbance to the ledger less weight for the poachers to trip over. Below, I am submerged in a bed of bodies Only my eyes are naked Eager to eat thin panels of sun Finally, light. drips. down. I wake up. Confused as to what surface is beneath me carefully pressing through air until my hand is smoothing out violent wrinkles. A folded copy of Charles Johnson's Middle Passage is at the base of my pillow. The ink on the last opened page Is mixed with saliva and blood. Words read like some incantation gone real bad some black magic that lulled me to nightmare when all I wanted to do was push the slave trade to the center of a spotlight, not Blackout not come to the realization that it is impossible to swim away from a crime in progress. I guess connecting the dots is an activity I always shied away from I would much rather lay in the center of a hashtag, bask in the isolation of just 1 filmed death this week and wait for the next movement to crest then fall but slavery has become an infinite mural A moving text painting driven by ancestors yelling with no jaw bones to focus the pain. The volume is haunting me I begin preparing a room for suffering to unfold its wings for the skeletons lost in Atlantis to tuck their remains into each fold of gray matter and sing songs of warning until I frighten myself with how much my voice sounds like war. This is not a nightmare. It is a rite of passage. A learning of a language I used to know while I slow-drag across the Atlantic Ocean. No land to draw hope from. just the crashing of waves drowning out the memory of sirens. Science of a Microwave Quick. We supposed to be quick. At the sound of a pulsating beep our acres should be fine-tuned, all rich and delectable. So it seems, until HR finds undone parts, pieces of uncooked plantation to sink in the rejection pen. Quick. We supposed to be quick to be over it, the coils of proverbial ghettoes supposed to conduct American dream walkways. Microwaves are Jim Crow suppositions with bloody black bodies adorning the uncertainty of emancipation. That’s why we run fast, jump high. We are still unhooking a noose, still escaping a system that promises citizenship quick. Why do we fall in love with the trap? ‘Cause easy to find nourishment in hot pockets when you never had a wood oven calzone. When the possibility of evenly distributed humanity has never darkened your door there is no hope that the next phase comes with wings.
Kirwyn Sutherland was inspired to write poetry while watching the HBO series Def Poetry Jam. Issues of racial discrimination, apartheid, and survival as a black man discussed in the poetry of Amiri Baraka, Craig muMs Grant, and Black Ice hit home for Kirwyn. Writing poetry became a vehicle for introspection, community building, connecting with people from diverse cultures, and healing. These early writings culminated in a chapbook, self- published March 2013, entitled X: A Mixtape. The majority of the proceeds from this book went to a $500 book scholarship (Delores Sutherland Scholarship) to a freshman student. Kirwyn’s second chapbook, published by Two Pens & Lint June 2014, entitled X: A Mixtape Re-mastered contained a combination of new and old poems on the topics of slavery, racial discrimination, mental health, and biological sciences. Kirwyn has featured at several open mic and slam venues in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, DC, Delaware and Detroit (Sep 2015). Additionally, he was one of 5 poets to represent Philadelphia at the 2015 National Poetry Slam. The team made the Semi-finals of the competition (top 20 out of 72 teams). Kirwyn has participated in workshop/residencies at Cave Canem, Poet’s House, Pearlstein Art Gallery at Drexel University, Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, and Lincoln University.
He is currently working on his as yet untitled first full length book and a poetic stage play dedicated to the men and women who have died as a result of racism and white supremacy entitled The Unheard