• The Omega Issue
    The Omega Issue
    Title page

    The Grapevine Telegraph

    Jard Lerebours, Interview + 2 Poems

    How are poetry and history tangled up?

    Poetry and history are tangled up in the places where poetry’s bones have been broken and reset, its flesh has been burned and its body parts have been rearranged. As a Black poet, I am interested in our canon and its multidisciplinary nature. You got your Blues poets, poets infused with jazz, ragtime and now, the emergence of Hip Hop with poetry and rhyme. Shoutouts to my Descendants of American Chattel Slavery, as a first generation West Indian I am forever indebted to them and their literary innovations.

    What is your writing practice like? Do you write every day, or only when the inspiration hits?

    I used to write every day during my first two years of college because I’m a very social person and was constantly looking to share my practice with those I loved and was learning to love. Nowadays I rarely write, mostly out of feeling like my poetry has lost some of its emotion and vitality. I feel a lot of pressure to be able to monetize my art in ways that I didn’t experience during college.

    Do your poems take different form depending on your location (NY vs ATL)?

    It depends. I would say that my poems take different form depending on where my heart is. Most of the poems I’ve written back home in New York are very sad and written in the throes of heartbreak. Whereas at Oxford College and Emory, the poetry I wrote was more in the spoken word tradition. It was meant to be performed and had messages intended for my friends and our community. I wasn’t alone in my room anymore. When I was in Spain, I wrote a short collection called “Baptized in Lavapiez” that was informed by my experience of Spain. In that case, the subject of the poems was no longer myself but the atmosphere and my racialization in Spain.

    How do photography and poetry mingle in your mind?

    In the past I’ve compared my creative drive to a sex drive. I think of poetry and photography as masturbatory acts, whereas filmmaking and prose require foreplay, candles, all sorts of intricacies. In capturing life and its moments, photography and poetry move at the rate I need them to. I use them to divulge feelings and purify desires with raw energy, there’s not much editing. It just comes out.


    As a child
    I found
    hope in riddles
    so I tried
    to find
    salvation in
    your eyes
    when I felt alone
    and stared into
    your yellow moon

    I guess that’s
    why I’m
    the edge of
    your bed
    your lips
    till they’re black
    and blue

    Moon eyes
    invites me
    to her room
    she was Southern
    like swinging bodies
    from trees
    apple pies
    signs of
    white only
    A halo
    of purchased
    and swirls
    I gave you
    then repented
    till my
    Moon eyes
    I was
    only thinking
    with my dick
    but she saw

    gold in the sty

    Moon eyes
    Who cries
    and curses
    away love
    like a scorned
    but once
    in a
    I doth
    lay in
    her bed
    to distill
    the Mccarthic spirits
    reddening my head
    until her
    blood curdling
    neck tingling
    my tactile
    digits lingered

    Moon Eyes
    half moon
    quarter moon
    crescent moon
    pieces of
    a girl who loved
    who died
    when her sun
    with the
    residue of
    a man
    under sterile
    blue sheets
    Moon eyes
    that can’t
    tell a poem
    from a lie
    hug me
    kiss me
    grope me
    tie rope
    round my
    control me
    Moon eyes

    the irony is
    you can’t see
    I want to be
    just sell
    your soul
    and revolve
    round me
    but moons
    never did
    rotate for
    am I selfish
    or is this my
    have I no
    to your craters
    and dark
    As a child
    she stayed
    up till midnight
    because mother
    had other priorities
    so she felt alone
    and stared
    into the blood moon

    searching for importance
    amidst turbulent
    but I prefer
    to smoke a forest
    She’s my one non negotiable
    the one clump of matter
    that I need
    the one miscreant
    of God’s creation
    that heals me when I bleed
    the two heads
    and arms
    I lost
    took lifetimes
    to find
    the one that’ll

    cry over my
    cold and molded flesh
    when my brown eyes
    She’s my one non negotiable


    From the moment I could talk
    and order my steps
    there was the smell of rotten flesh
    Every time my mouth flapped open to speak
    It would whip and crackle against the roof

    I wore my white mask proudly
    Until it drained the color from my face

    They told me I spoke white
    They said my language didn’t
    Match the gene placement
    That made my skin
    So Black and beautiful

    They said my tongue was
    The same one which harbored
    The slave trade
    A tongue of silky White
    Like Native American genocide
    Like Sun-beaten necks
    Like Confederate Flags
    Like Guilt
    Like Privilege
    Like The hands that tied noose
    Like The Wizard robes
    Like The harvesters of the strange fruit

    I wore my white mask proudly
    Until it drained the color from my face

    From that moment on I wanted
    To cut my fucking tongue out

    I would look to prepare the knife and slice it open

    I wanted to cut it out because
    Jesse Jackson said Barack talked down to
    Black people
    I wanted to cut it out because
    Charlemagne called Childish Gambino
    A White rapper

    Every time you call me an Uncle Tom
    I see the bloody mass of Huey P. Newton’s face
    And the bullet-ridden carcass of Malcolm X
    And Booker T. Washington’s laser gaze
    And I weep a little bit

    I wore my white mask proudly
    Until it drained the color from my face

    From the moment I could talk
    And order my steps
    I received backhanded compliments
    A whip against my brother’s back
    The house slave and the field hand

    Every time my mouth flapped open to speak
    The teacher would say
    “He speaks so well”
    “He’s so articulate”

    But don’t lie
    You loved it
    Didn’t you?
    You loved feeling better than
    The other Black kids
    Didn’t you White nigga?
    You loved the words that belonged
    To White people
    You longed for the world that belonged
    to White people

    W.E.B. Du Bois called us the talented tenth
    What he really meant was
    The more digestible Black
    Blackness you could swallow without
    Staining your tongue

    He meant blackness without soul
    He meant reason without rhyme
    He meant rap with no beat

    I wore my white mask proudly
    Until it drained the color from my face

    Every time you call me a token Black
    My skin crawls with how worthless I am
    I am a token that can buy nothing
    But ioweu’s for a post-racial America
    There’s no 40 acres and a mule backing my currency

    I have sinned against my ancestors
    Every time you call me an Oreo
    I wish to slit my black wrist
    And drown into the milk of
    White American bliss

    Every time you question my Blackness
    I question if Mother didn’t raise me right
    I question why she didn’t knot my hair
    And clot my blood
    I question if she didn’t stress long enough
    That my Black mind matters

    Don’t ask me if I’m Black
    No, no not me

    I’m just a retired machete swinger
    A sugarcane cutter
    An African lost in the wilderness
    Of the West Indies
    Ask me if I’m the product of
    Resilience and struggle?

    Come correct or don’t come at all

    Ask me about My great grandfather Sammy
    spoke a holy tongue
    And farmed on a plot in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica

    Ask me if I’m the grandson of
    Who was the first Austin
    In university

    Ask me if I’m the grandson of Joseph
    Political refugee
    Alcoholic and pastor

    Come correct or don’t come at all

    The cops never questioned if I was Black
    When they tried to strip my
    Emory ID
    to put orange robes on my
    Black flesh and me

    No, no I am not your enemy
    I just refuse to latch onto
    The black monolithic centipede

    I wore my white mask
    Until it drained the color from my face

    From the moment I could talk
    And order my steps
    There was the smell of rotten flesh
    Every Time my mouth flapped open to speak
    It would whip and crackle
    Like White supremacy

    You are loved White nigga
    Your Blackness is appreciated
    Don’t you ever forget that
    Black people have always been post-racial

    Centuries ago
    There was a Black box
    Made so small that only
    Slaves could fit in
    Made so small that they
    Couldn’t recognize the difference
    Between Ibo and Ashanti
    Akan and Amhara
    Made so small that my ancestors
    Starved and died in their
    Own feces and urine

    You and I are too large for that slave ship
    Our dreams are too big
    Our experiences are too wide and varied

    My Black is not a monolith
    My Blackness is a black hole
    From which
    No parcel can escape
    My gravitational pull
    Has no restraint

    I love my Blackness and yours
    So let me wear my black face proudly
    Let me have dignity
    Understand that I love my people
    Understand that every nigga
    Dancing offbeat is not counterrevolutionary

    Our blackness is self love
    Our blackness is pride
    Our blackness is eternal

    Jard Lerebours is a multidisciplinary artist hailing from Bayshore, New York. Jard is a recent graduate of Emory University where he studied English and Creative Writing. His mediums include filmmaking, photography and music. His work explores themes of Black identity, first generation conflicts, sexuality, masculinity and the pervasiveness of social media. His current projects include rapping as the cyborg Jardi CGI (available on all streaming platforms) and a rotating cast of screenplays.

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