Project Semicolon/ Patrick J. Derilus

my story would seem like it ended
when i became tired, when i
gave up, or whenever the clock
struck twelve, when we still coerce one
another to believe the white amerikkkan
dream is an infallibly, idyllic endeavor.

my story began a few years ago,
when i no longer withheld feverish tears,
that rolled down the fleshly cheekbones of
my Black skin, when i carved through my wood
desk the word die as a teenage boy. deathly ideations
of my inescapable pain, ascending from my flesh
in dejected hope that it would appease my loved ones.


my mental illnesses are not a
white person’s problem because:

White supremacist magistrate

richard Rikers, makes Black boys
like twenty-two-year-old
kalief browder kill themselves;

kid cudi penned a handwritten
death note expressing his ongoing,
internal enmity against suicide;

dj quik
expressed 50 Ways to
keep himself from going under:
feelings of uncertainty, depression,
oppressive pressure that comes with
hedonistic materialism of
hip-hop culture and fame

tupac amaru shakur
achingly cried, laboriously jotting
impoverishment of our Black kindred,
unending police brutality, mass incarceration

kept seeing
himself fall apart,

rashad wants us to
hug our Black kindred
before we cannot,

and it has been five years
since nineteen-year-old
Capital STEEZ’s suicide.

death need not know
that i am aware that it
follows my Black body–


afterthoughts leap,

“why should i care if i
died anyway?”

a semicolon tattooed on a

Black man’s skin means he has

lived to tell his story, calling to
other Black men, permitting ourselves
to feel, crying until
our tear ducts ran dry

affirming our
Black feelings,





patrickderiliusPatrick Jonathan Derilus is published in The Voices Project, Scrittura Magazine, Cutlines Press Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the author of  Thriving Fire: Musings of A Poet’s Odyssey.





Header Image: Creative Commons, Public Domain.

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