Dub: Finding Ceremony

And then there are books that make demands. Daily demands. Seemingly impossible demands. And those are the books that find me...wherever I am sitting before sunrise. The ones that snatch me out of bed while I am still too dazed to ask for anything like sense. These four poems open my book Dub: Finding Ceremony and like every page of that book they are linked to specific acts of phrasing and emphasis in the theoretical work of Sylvia Wynter, whose body of work asks our species to unlearn the colonial scientific and economic stories that make us make sense to ourselves. All endnotes refer to essays by Sylvia Wynter. —Alexis Pauline Gumbs


we would like it if you wrote us poems. we would like it if you wrote us long life sentences. we would like it if you broke sentences and gave us more life than you or we were told could be contained. we would like it if you remained. we would like it if you showed up every day. we would like it if you drank water. we would love it if you would turn off your phone. we would sincerely appreciate it if you stopped pretending to be alone.

genre-specific mode of material provisioning, Human Being as Noun, 18


we promise to wake you up if we think you won’t get the point of the dream. we promise to show up if you show up. every day. we promise to make you feel sick when you lie to yourself. we promise to let love through if it’s love you came to do. we promise to make time flexible if you give us all your time. we promise to think of you more often than you think of us. we promise to remember you when you forget. we promise to be wherever and in everything you haven’t noticed yet. we promise to be we, even one by one. we promise to outsmart your mind. we promise to overlove your heart. we promise to echo over your voice. we promise you everything. everything. all we ask.

the intervention as the manifesto of the ceremony found, Human Being as Noun, 7


tell them about the eastern shore and running. tell them about underneath the boat. the hard shell breaking open. the land so wet it’s water. the water so hard we live on it most the day. tell them how we left and how we stayed.

tell them about the whales. but tell them using the oyster shells. tell them about wampum and waiting. tell them about the salted dirt within you. tell them how we found each other again.

tell them about the shells. tell them about the giant turtle shells. tell them about the soup we made in shells when we needed armor. tell them why we needed armor and what we did before the harm. tell them about flint, magic, coral, god and fire. and what we left to tell the tale.

tell them about the whales. and how they swam next to us singing. how they breathed sometimes bigger than the boats. what they taught us about evolution. how they clicked sometimes louder than the chains. how they taught us to make time out of salt. how they deepened our lungs and opened the top of our heads. how they made their whole bodies into drums to show us how it would be.

tell them who taught you to dream. to stay. to breathe. and then show them who taught you to leave.

representation of origins, Human Being as Noun, 34


if you gathered them they would be everyone.

gather them.

recognize in them your jawline, your wet eyes, your long-fingered hands, seeking what but this multitude. if you gathered them they would not fit on this island. they would spill back into the ocean whence they came. when you gather them they will have fins and claws and names you do not know.

gather them anyway.

some will look you in the eye, some are too microscopic to see. if you don’t gather them all you will never be free. if you gathered them you could not hold them, scold them, demand back what you think is lost. gather them today or your soul is the cost. gather the ones who sold and who bought and who tossed overboard. gather the erstwhile children in the name of the lord. gather the unclaimed fathers, the ones with guns and with swords. gather them up. with your hands. with your relationship to land. with your chin set. you are not done yet. you never will.

gather them more. gather them still.

they will unfound you and surround you unfind you and unwind you travel to you unravel through your own needle. gather the thread. collect your dead.

But who are “we”? Ethno or Sociopoetics, 80