#blacksays by Joshua Idehen

By Wasafiri Editor on May 4, 2021 in

Black is tired. 

Black would like 

to make a statement:  

Black is tired 


Black’s eyes  

vacant, arms  

leaden, tongue  

can’t taste shit  

stomach cannot compress death.  


Black would like  

to state: Black is not 

a beast of mythslain 

in a fable, recounted  

on a roundtable by brave,  

blue-collar men 


Black has  

demandsbaton proof 

bones and bullet  

resistant skin  


Black wrote  

an article: 500 Years That Prove State  

Approved Lynchings Should Go 

The Way Of Dubstep  



Black thinks  

no person that trigger  

eager deserves a gun  

much less a badge  


Black knows one day 

its hands will go  

up, its lips  

pinned but its shadow  

reaching for something  

that’s not there  

and that’ll be enough 





Black says  

keep your 40 acres just 


let Black reach the end  

of the street just  

let Black reach for the last 

skittles sweet just  

let Black reach into Black’s own  

car let Black reach  

into Black’s own lungs 


Black doesn’t want its  

young ones seeing fathers die  

on youtube                      


Pausing halfway to keep  

them alive. Black says  

it’s always been like this 





Black’s seen your grin 


your grin is a pirate flag 


Black’s hands bleed 

from the knife edge  

you offered on your side  

of the handshake  


Black is angry now 


Black is in pain.  


Black’s nerves  

are fireflies dancing  

with grief, a curseword  

trapped in a bracket. A sentence 

too intense for one  

full stop. Black’s  

pain needs…   


Black’s sat in a room.  

Lights off, candles out. Nothing fair or  

fair skinned about Black’s  

pain, Oh, Black knows  

you commiserate, Black  

knows you sympathise. 


Black says you don’t understand, Black  

says you  

cannot compare, Black  

says you  

cant empathise, Black  

says this  

pain is too pepper, Black  

says you  

cannot digest, Black  

says how  

can you relate? 


When these black  

lips are this full and 

these black knees  

are this ashy and this black voice 

is this loud and these black cheeks 

is this round and this black skin  

is this proud and this black skin  

is this cocoa butter  

shiny and this black  

praise is dance, this black sorrow  

is dance this black struggle  

is dance this black  

hair is nappy and balding  

and weaved and balding 

and thick  

it’s so thick it’s so thick it’s  

so thick it’s so thick it’s 

So long like octopus  

legs stretching over skies, blotting out  

the sun, inking up the cotton  

and the cocaine  

And now Black’s  

emotions are a hurricane. And now Black’s  

emoting from the Everest 


Black says black has tried everything 


Black has jived  

with both hands,  

breastfed your children  

pulled its pants up,  

learned to beg  

in your language 

laughed at your stupid, stupid jokes 

eaten your terrible  

rendition of jollof rice 

stiffened its lips, bitten 

its tongue to a nub, 

Filled the corners of your self  

adulation with its excellence  

and now  

Black wants to know  

what else can it do? 


Black is desperate now  

Black’s brought all its children to the parking  

lot, all its treasures 

to the auction block. Black  

says it’s willing to negotiate. 


Black says give  

Black some dignity  

And Black will give you twerking 

Black knows you love  

hip hop. Black will  

swap hip hop for a chance  

to live on its feet. Black  

says let Black have a safe  

space with all of its friends and fam 

and it’ll let you have first  

place in the 100 metres final.  

Get the Williams Sisters to quit  

winning for a year 


Black wants you  

to know nothing  

is off the table. 


Black would do anything  

for its humanity 


Just let black be 

Black says 

Just let black be 


Joshua Idehen is a Poet, workshop facilitator, musician and founder of renowned poetry/music magazine Poejazzi. As a poet, he has performed at most major festivals, appeared in anthologies alongside Linton Kwesi Johnson. As a musician, he works in three bands: Benin City, HUGH and with electro dub outfit LV. He has gained accolades from QmagArtsdesk, Fact, Mojo, ClashMixmag, DJ and DIY.

Not My House“, a new single by Joshua Idehen + LV, is out 11 May 2021. 


“#blacksays” was shortlisted for the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize for Poetry.

Enter the prize here. Entries close 31 May 2021.