Fresh Ink: Funeral by Joseph the Poet

(After Warsan Shire)

I often wonder what I’m going
To say at your funeral
Here lies the body of a man
I’ve always been told
Is my family
I learned a lot from him
But the most important lesson he taught me
Is how to love conditionally
If it will make you happy
Truly happy
I’ll become an engineer
Spend my days playing
With wires
Resentful of my decisions
Angry at the world
For making me get this degree I don’t want
Mad that I can’t blame
My shitty decisions
On anyone
But myself

I wonder how I’m going to speak about you
After you’re gone
It scares me how often I’ll have to lie
About how I felt
It scars me how often
I’ll have to tell the truth

I’ve been fighting for years
But if it’s what you want
I’ll learn to throw a punch
I’ll move the target
To the softest most vulnerable
Underbelly within arms reach
I’ll call you outside your name
As if it’s on your birth certificate
As if I’ve always regretted letting
Your mother pick your name
As if I regret giving you my last name
That’s the best thing about
Throwing punches to the belly
It bruises but all the damage is
So nobody else can see it
And each one hurts
A little more

I won’t take any satisfaction
In burying you
It won’t be made any easier
Knowing I’m done
I’ll look through your stuff
Knowing I don’t know
What’s important to you
Because you always
Had a habit
Of throwing everything away
Whether it was priceless
Or worthless

You were always good with your hands
But I feel like I saw you
More than you built
Your fingers were thick
And you always insisted
On handling the fragile items

I was always told
That you were proud of me
But whenever I was told
What was said
It turns out you’re proud of what I’ve done
And not the person who did it

So what will I do after the lid closes?
Sit at the repass
My partner will reluctantly
Sit next to me
He feels just as unwelcome
You wouldn’t want him there anyway
We’ll get home
He’ll ask me if I need to talk
I’ll say no, I’m good
He’ll hug me and say I love you
And I’ll wonder what those words mean
I’ll grab a bottle of wine
And the PlayStation controller
And finish the game
I had saved before we left
It may be in my blood
But I don’t like to leave things
Without resolu-

As black as he is queer and as queer as he is black, Joseph the Poet is as dedicated to artistic expression through weaving words together as he is to marble cheesecake. An alumnus of the University of South Carolina and FTS Staff Scribe currently residing and writing in Washington, D.C., Joseph prides himself on bringing a southern flare to his work. When not writing, he spends his time drinking mojitos, shopping for flannels, and milly rocking, scooping all the blessings out his lap.

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