remembering moonlight

Cover Story: Ashton Sanders in His Own Powerful Words | AnotherMan

i know all too well what Juan means
when he says
In moonlight black boys look blue.”  

i know those blues. i know moonlight in my memory.

i remember being told that hours after birth, 
my dark-skinned father  took one look at my lighter skin 
and determined
i must be the product of my mother’s sin.  

i remember being moved
states away from mother 
because alcoholic, drug addict father,
who already beat her badly, 
beat her worse
because i dared to breathe
the blue-black air of his home. 

i remember five years as motherless child
remember not knowing her
when she showed up
to bring me back to her bosom.
remember being marked at an early age
as “different”
in an undesirable way.  

i remember being chased by bigger boys
who sought to vent their blackboy frustrations
on smaller-weaker blackboy body with frustrations of its own. 

i remember the words faggot and sissy
so daily delivered
I thought they were my first and middle name. 

i remember alcoholic stepfather
with blackboy demons of his own
who exorcised his demons
with switches, belts, boards, extension cords,
and shame 

remember sitting in the living room floor, 
legs tucked under in unorthodox way,
hearing him say …
“What you sittin there like a faggot for?”

i remember acrid words
that burned like boiling water

remember mama’s inability
to protect me from the violence of words 
and unloving labels
and men who marked me

remember wondering what’s wrong with me,
wondering how my once too light skin
became invisible,
why girls, instead of looking at me,
looked through

iremember wondering
how i was invisible
and too visible
at the same damned time

remember pretending to be sick
so I could stay “home”
and avoid the sickness of blackboy bruises
embarrassment and crying

remember the friends i never made

remember the love i never felt

remember shitty smell
on my too small blackboy body
picked up and placed in the garbage can
for fun

remember darkness of being locked in a locker,
out of sight,
out of the sun,
out of fun

I remember 16,
a razor in my hand
and determination to die
remember russian roulette
with pill bottles in the medicine cabinet, 
and questions why

hand full of mystery medicine,
and disappointment that I picked the wrong bottle

I remember boys in the brick school building
monday through bluesday and faggot faggot faggot

remember  teacher who told them to stop

remember new words and ways of saying the same thing

remember my new name: bundle of sticks

remember dictionary with all the words telling me
“fag” is british for bundle of sticks

I remember deciding that if god didn’t make it better
it was time to go

remember salvation sundays
and whispers by polite people
too christian to say it to my face,
not christian enough to love me anyway

i remember fasting 14 days,
nothing but wishes and water,
and 20 pounds wasted away,
chasing a mystical thing called deliverance
that never came

i remember the voice of god saying,
preach to people
and tell them about love
remember microphones and tambourines
and people laying in the floor
because i found a voice
that could cure them
but not me

i remember devout men of god
and supposedly divine directions
who thought the sure sign of salvation was an erection:

find a woman, date and dine,
enter her gates of glory,
and she will fix you

i remember tuxedo saturday,
i do’s and dedicating myself to a miserable life of un-love
with  woman who knew the truth

i remember devout men of god
full of flames and fire
who unzipped their pants in the pastor’s study
right after telling me hell would be my home

i remember jesus they said can fix it … but he would not 

i remember whispers about why a woman would love a man
whose edges were not rough enough

i remember sweat and soul songs
remember pulpits and preaching
and prophesy and people

remember people who only loved me
for how good god in me made them feel 

remember going home after sunday service 
to take anti-depressants with alcohol
hoping i might take too much

remember waking up 12 years later realizing,
you can’t fix what ain’t broke

i remember hate moving in
and bringing all her bags

i remember really believing that god loves the truth
more than anything,
so time came to tell it

remember saying: i’m so sorry, but i gotta go

remember that the moment i told the truth,
the lies began

remember death,
of marriage,
of money,
of meaning

remember genocide
when an entire christian community,
900 niggas,
decided to be dead to me
because the truth was too much —
but what about unconditional love?

remember an empty apartment
only an air mattress … books … a dog …
nobody and nothing

remember my mama’s tears
when told what she already knew

remember 2000 dollars of disappointment
on vacation with a partner
i couldn’t even dance with
because our blackboy bodies moving in front of one another 
would cause too much chaos. 


i remember everyday not to hold his hand
when other eyes are around 

i remember every day
that i am hated by so many of the black people i love
with my whole heart

remember the sadness i feel
at the sight of lesbian sisters holding hands in the mall,
knowin i can never do the same

i remember walking into classrooms to teach
and blackboys with eyes the color of suspicion,
looking under my skin for secrets

remember them silently saying
you can’t teach me
because you might be something unacceptable

i remember my honest heart
and  deep desire to help people who need a person
who knows

remember to remind myself, 
you can’t learn from me
because of the way my love leans,
but, bitch i’m smarter than you

i remember a full life of loneliness linked to love and un-love and a daddy who didn’t and people who won’t and being a black life that doesn’t matter despite my t-shirt and my raised fist in solidarity with black people who don’t even view me as a person.  

i remember moonlight. all too-well. all too-hell. all too-blue.
all too 45 years of faggotry and insignificance and disregard
everywhere i dare to breathe. 

remember the  many days i have thought the world might be a better place
without blue black boys like me. 

i remember to cry for Chiron, 
because I am Chiron. 


I am moved by moonlight
because I am moonlight.  

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