© 2024 KALW 91.7 FM Bay Area
KALW Public Media / 91.7 FM Bay Area
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Bay Poets

'Durag' by poet Ashia Ajani

Ashia Ajani is a multi-genre storyteller and educator from Denver, CO, Queen City of the Plains. Ajani received a Master’s in Environmental Management from Yale School of the Environment and is a climate resilient schools educator and researcher with Mycelium Youth Network. Ajani’s words have been featured in Atmos, Sierra, World Literature Today and Frontier Poetry, among others. Check out a catalogue of Ajani’s writing at ashiaajani.com.


Forward moving, we always turn back

time. Like ocean, built of body, memory

the God of good grease paints follicles holy

and those waves, Lord, those ancient waves

facilitate a brother’s boldest baptism, wipe me

down, a litany of all the good that came to stay.

The Atlantic remembers every part of Black

anatomy. Like a curse, a calling: those cold waters

shift and stagnate under a cotton polyester blend.

They never got to lay claim to the water, but by God

How they dam(n)ed, privatized, seized, overfished,

extracted, deregulated, poisoned, commodified

pulled the cloth from the crease quick, like a run in

a stocking. Ripped the color clean from scalp-

an instantaneous divide reminds what can be taken

and what can be absolved.

Later, a Black boy will fit his mouth around the word rage

hold it behind his tongue, ferment his brooding into savage.

Watch him pull bones from the riverbed, casting wide

mesh drenched in cotton coagulations. Pray for summer rain

to rinse all these triflin’ transgressions clean. Any flood breaks

a bullet’s back, but does not siphon the blood back into body.

Baby, I can’t help but enshrine you as a vengeful sea God-

drowning in all that drip, all that wet, all that sheen.