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my friends ask about you as if your side of the bed still ain't on fire
the closet is a furnace that almost killed us both

my cousins still joke about our relationship
trace their fingers over scars they cannot see
or pay their weight in rainy nights, with warm meals to understand
i swallow the pain in silence

it is all in fun, right
they cannot possibly know that black boys with black sisters can't be strong all the time we cannot be both the punchline and the applause

the memory of us dangling from the door & hurting the way we did making habits and then breaking that shit as if you were substance to be abused as if i was just flesh and wasn't also tired

while the soul smolders in a past fire           ​to make mockery of
what heaven offered us                   ​​to bear a smile

W.J. Lofton

W.J. Lofton is an activist, songwriter, poet, and the author of A Garden for Black Boys Between the Stages of Soil and Stardust. His writing advocates for social justice and equity for marginalized communities; specifically Black men and women. Lofton’s work has been featured in Meniscus Literary Journal, Connotation Press, Obsidian Magazine, Scalawag, Spiral Orb, and The Anthology of Transcendent Poetry. He is currently working on his second collection of poetry.