“Steps to Questioning One’s Existence” by Angel C. Dye

March 8, 2018

This poem is part of our #BlackLivesMatter special issue, guest-edited by Katrina Otuonye. Read more at our #BlackLivesMatter2018 tag.

Steps to Questioning One’s Existence


Turn out the light.
(Before you can reach your bed you will be stepping on corpses,
feet soaked in blood pooling around your ankles.)

You will want to scream, want to close your eyes and not see death staring you down.

Finally, you will jump into the blankets and sheets afraid.



When you see cold cement floor and her being photographed lying down on it
you will wonder almost to the point of obsession whether or not she is alive.

You will hear ‘in Jesus’ name’ resounding off high ceilings
and see rocking back n forth on pews.
Then you will hear the silencing of gunfire and need to know if god was there.

Imagine splashing and swimming turned
weapon drawn and knee in her back, face down in the dirt.
Then accept that water ain’t never washed away the stain of us.



Read an autopsy that sounds like a fairytale storybook
or an auction block description
or a zoo exhibit caption

then beg to know
what we can be if not here?



Repeat all of the above every day as long as you are in second-class skin.


Angel C DyeAngel C. Dye is a poet from Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas who writes to ask, process, and practice catharsis even when her skinfolk cannot or do not. She writes because growing up in the Pentecostal church taught her that there are different ways to pray. Her writing unpacks mental illness and unconventional or fragmented family ties. She is committed to illuminating injustice and suffering but also joy and triumph in black narratives. Angel is a graduate of Howard University and an MFA in Creative Writing candidate at the University of Kentucky. Her poetry has appeared in African Voices MagazineSixfold Journal, and About Place Journal. Visit her online at edenworkspublishing.com.

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