Xxavier Edward Carter: Poets Corner
Welcome to MoAD Poet’s Corner, a space where our network of poets speak to their place in the African Diaspora as it exists today. The poets featured in this series are connected to MoAD through our MoAD Lit programs, which includes Poets-in-Residence, Third Thursday Open Mic, and Authors in Conversation. Here is a space where you can nourish your soul, feel inspired, and relish in the words that narrate the African Diaspora. In the words of the late, Toni Morrison at her Nobel Prize address, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
Better Luck Next Time
The heaps of men and women folded becoming blankets and coats and plastic bags left on the subway platform, and as the evening wore down, remembering their humanity, moved the way that humans do, again, flirting over the bones of where they came from, giant skeletons housing flowers and glass windows and ivy.
The park becoming dawn, steaming, venting, the benches, to their lovers, retired, the day to a mistress, maybe flinging some more faithful from their beds.
A twisting rag wrung with sweat and urine and steam.
The brush unhoused.
Flesh, synthetic, mats, fleece, gloves, as an usher.
Mostly death, castaways, turning grey, the only way, growing pains, a shock, and all the body rocking, spinning top, brains tied in a knot like a speed bag.
Life, killing, hoarse, not saving shit, just holding it.
All the barbarous things men do, holding onto you, separating the skin from the scalp, taking the smile from your mouth, dragging fists, admitting I will probably die doing this.
Watch hands, the jagged motion of a fake, all of your mistakes in body, a God moving ungodly things, sitting pretty, still missing the city, still missing the pretty when you’ve become ugly, longing to touch the scarred face, black under the sun, the thing that you’ve become, the thing that you’ve become, the thing that you’ve become.
The land is fat, embryonic, wheels, within a wheel, mill, within a mine, liquefying the sediment, most rich, dead bodies, pumped, oil, down, and out.
In the canteen along the border, where, ten gallons, like a beacon, for the cross, the boys back in town, security, mostly afraid of damage, trying to save face, she blisters, words, as fire crackers, to an asshole, speaking too much.
If you listen, says the rooster, the traffic, doesn’t it sound like a chorus?
All the voices in harmony, from a past life of fighting, screaming, silence.
The new year, as it approaches midnight, or noon, high, counting, seconds, filling the plate, one after another, escaping.
It will be colder than the day before.
A snake retreating before claws and wings, fury, drawn.
The desert sprouts life like a wound healing, the thorns a cactus uses to protect the water, this thirst, drink, a memory, nothing sharper, but a dull light, as the tunnel grows longer, between me and you, the sense, less valued.
My eyes have seen enough, and know, more, will come.
When I would cover the walls in flowers of pastels, trying to shake a demon off of my back, walking across a river, I saw it waiting when I crossed back.
Taking a ferry to the next town, down river where the water is black, in the evening, dots of green and blue, floating up from the dark, to disappear in the hungry mouths, looking up, on the bow, tracings rounds to an island, the only tree growing, here, and there is a city, built on the twisting body of a dragon, they say, even the babies.
You know, the voice of a woman born there, where the delta holds all the spirits, of wars won, the sirens, through the night, as imaged in a small room, through a screen, keeping out the mosquitos.
Blood moon, fingers, powdered eyes, and the glow of a rising star, I am far away, and you have come home.
I listen, more often than not, with nothing to say, but nodding off, to a day emptied of all colors, and an empty net, only kind of wishing, of that which gets you, killed, in a dream, after work was done, drooling, one can assume, the stress of secrets, granted, to a phone call, with my second mother.
Strange acts, not running, as the police come, a black truck circling, stopping, exiting, asking how long it takes, and if this is any, smarter, then the alternatives, being assaulted by your friend, the sound of a fractured skull, good Samaritans, phone calls, crying a few tears, knowing this will take more time than you have.
Wrong tenses, appropriate reactions, left overs, the early rising, chewing the fat, and bone, and gristle, mashed, an awful paste.
An artful mess, of things placed too high, aloft, collecting dust, until the time has come, to shake off those wings, taking up the sword, for one last flight, as angels do, with the sky falling.
There is a term of service that legalizes the sale of your information.
However far you lean in you’re eavesdropping.
This is a time for you to carry your weight and if you need to be told what that is then you’re not.
Standing, too much of ourselves.
I’ve made excuses for habitual violence.
Quote, you were talking all that shit now what you cryin bout?
Your children know you are painfully human.
We are irrational.
Reasons for leaving, reasons for staying, reasons for standing, reasons for praying, reasons for needing, reasons for knowing, reasons for wanting, reasons for going.
I never thought, of something more human, than a speed trap.
The power to get to you.
Eminent domain as the world bends to another shape, one more fitting for a different life, the suit of a businessperson, man and best friend, bound together by chains, leading, who remains, priced out, classed, clout, or clean, sweeping.
Abandoned, in an empty warehouse, where, temporarily, the lights flash in a way that say something.
A forum, load rocks into cart and go up hill.
Thrills, said before a vanity mirror, breaking three times, purpose and image, the sublime, as it existed on a canvas, still wet, frantic, like a wind blowing.
The roof, in parts, fire in the arcade, a game, to some is more, and can be more, and should be more, but is a game, snatching the senses for more purpose, like a soul, or a regret, becoming ugly in the face of all that beauty, really and truly amazing.
My work is multisensorial, layered, and ever evolving to the circumstances I encounter. I base my practice on the idea of existing with a small ecological footprint. I try to incorporate my daily living into my practice. My work blends the complexities of personal interactions, media bombardment from radio, television, and internet, observed experiences, and excesses of physical material in the landscape. This extends into videos, publications, installations, and performances. There is no set formula that I go about to make my work and I try to take a very democratic approach to material. I am Black and Native American and view my work as a continuation of the survival practices and storytelling practices of the cultures I was born into. Broader, I am interested in how these strategies and practices have their analogies in other cultures. Stories of origins, stories of the afterlife, stories of superhuman beings, and stories of love and tragedy are most interesting to me. From these ideas I try and create work dealing with what these they mean in an often violent and oppressive context. I see my work as bravely forging new ground by creating new stories from the links of a chain that is often marked by the destructive nature of humanity.
Xxavier Edward Carter is an interdisciplinary artist born in Dallas, Texas with a BFA from Stanford University and MFA from Southern Methodist University. He is a 2011 recipient of the Arch and Anne Giles Kimbrough Award from the Dallas Museum of Art, A 2016 Freedom Fellow at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the 2019 Dallas/Dijon Fellow. Whereabout currently unknown.
Categories: MoAD Lit