M. Carmen Lane

That Fucking Cunt

For Na-te’

This was the beginning. A white man needed to be put in his place and instead a young black woman became the target. His punk ass wanted to stand up for himself and choked. Didn’t believe he was worth it. She said her own trauma kept her from intervening. She was uncomfortable with his behavior but froze. The so-called past was present. They should feel good for being rewarded a stipend. Tell me why your art is good. Make a video because you don’t need to know how to read or write. To articulate your practice. Show me your brown skin so that I know you are the one we should pick to pimp through our social media. See, we aren’t racist. We get money to feel good about giving money to young people of color who make shit. We have always had niggers and prairie niggers and sand niggers sing and dance for our enjoyment. This is the prize. That fucking art cunt cried in my arms and thanked me for helping her see the error of her ways. I, had, invited her into the circle. Instead, she hides and snakes around to keep her power. Instead she promises to course correct. She plans her escape and plants a dirty bomb before the leaving. That filthy fucking art cunt hates women of color and two spirits who get the attention of white men, even if that attention is vitriol. Objectification without being shaved and a maintained blonde.

Art cunts are white and over fifty; they don’t make shit and hate you for having a creative imagination ancient as this river infinite to their finite miseries. 


Born Blue

S/he speaks to you through the waves. You pretend you don’t see its trajectory change direction, foamy hills move towards your body—hit rocks in a rhythm that has your attention. Gurgles everything you’ve ever needed to hear. She says the blues are the sounds we heard in nature and sang back to our Mother. I sing back to you. You ignore me, but that song got into you. Hold, envelop, make sure they do not cover my face when they lay my body in this river. It’s a body, it’s a body, it’s a body bag. It’s a swaddle. They carry him out of the sooty shit of life to free—this is the blues. Oshun. An indigo pussy and out he come, unborn. still. An ancestor returns and asks you to complete a task. Burn it blue. Map it. The cartography of a life that has wrestled with mud and muscle, bone and an ash that irritates. Soothe it blue, Slim. We are in this river together. Her mama, whose name I’ve only heard her speak once. My daughter, who hugged me back into life from blue AND your son, your son who lives in the headwaters of the Mississippi and the Cuyahoga; calls to you from the Missouri—this fresh water waiting for the salt of you to return to it. Birth it blue, Slim.


Birth In The Mourning
sound piece, 2020

The babies. She came in love, forged in quiet violence. So did he. The oceans, the salty Atlantic. Why did she want to stay? Why couldn’t she stay? Why did you follow me? It was April, it was the water. The water wanted to enter the womb but it was dry—is dry, it’s dry. I am so dry. A heart beat, a drumbeat, a heart beat, a drum a heart—out of time. The wood floating on the water. Darkness. These chains are shakers. They used the iron as shakers and sang. This dirt is red too. I smell shit and salt.  I see my mother’s body on the shore, bloated. Oh this food is dry rot,  put it in the pot, let the water bring it back to life—eat, eat, eat. Eat. My lips are cracked. She said this bear grease would work on the wound. She wants to talk about many things. I am bursting wide open with the smallest gesture.  The kitchen was white and the light was dim when she ran in and wrapped her arms around my waist. I turned in a startled motion to her absence. Amala. This body could not forget how she came to be—rejected her need for entry. When I was in her bed, joy spreading over skin, she wanted to crawl in, crawl inside and come. She could not stay, flesh could not form, she could not form. But, she could not form. They say it’s structural racism. They say it’s a policy that needs to change. They say it’s institutional. They say it’s because we’re alone and need someone present. They say we need better food, more attention. We say listen. We say hear me. We say white supremacy. We say violence. We say please. We say stop. We say change. We say stretch. We say grow. Ancestors. The Ancestors interrupt and call: in our return you will simply need to get out of the way.  We are coming. We have always been here. The babies. We come into the world and breathe with you. You hold us. You held us. We were held. The social workers bring boxes and plastic and powder and liquid in cans. Do not connect with your mother’s body. Do not bond, perform. It’s warm, then less warm. It’s time to go. Do not wake. Do the ceremony, wrap me in skins, cut your hair—I’ve walked with you for sixteen years. This is now complete. Let me be born to someone else this mourning. Amala. Twenty-eight. Sixteen. Fifteen. Thirty-two. Twenty-four. One Thousand. One. 


M. Carmen Lane (Tuscarora, Mohawk, African-American) is a two:spirit artist and writer living in Cleveland, Ohio. Their poetry has been published in the Yellow Medicine Review, River Blood & Corn, and Red Ink Magazine. Carmen contributed to the Lambda Literary nominated anthology Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literatures. Their first collection of poetry is Calling Out After Slaughter (2015).