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Against Fear

We’ve always thought of last

breath reaching out of

invisibility, marked

ours on whatever could be seen.

——— was here. Signed

classroom notes with our names

also known as, better known as, forever

known as. Please save me

from myself, for ever is there

an us worth saving. And all the names

worth saying. A child they call

Ever. Allow me, my fear. My brother

is thirteen and won’t always be.

Threat turns us. I want to go on

forever. The way Medgar Evers.

Nina says freedom means no fear.

I am a pool of what ifs, but

why nots ground me. Name all

the black babies Ever. A friend

writes me, signs off

As Ever, ———.


MALCOLM TARIQ is the author of Heed the Hollow (Graywolf, 2019), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the Georgia Author of the Year Award, and Extended Play (Gertrude Press, 2017). A 2020-2021 resident playwright with Liberation Theatre Company, Malcolm lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he is the Programs Manager at Cave Canem, a home for Black poetry.


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