Deep Conditioning

I would say this is a work in progress because it’s something that took only a few hours to write, but the reality, is I can probably edit it and re-use it for the next time. It’s frightening to know that there are so many white people and non-black people of color (I see you, black on black crime crusaders) who cannot recognize humanity in black people so much so that our deaths have become a spectator sport for the evening news highlight reel.


Cold water washes onto my scalp, cutting its own paths across the once clear parts I made for my braids, now blurred by traces of week-old hair cream and sweat.

I am washing out the dried flakes of the blood that splashed on my bowed head at the scene of the latest execution, where I was to be found mid-worship,

eyes fluttering between permanent sleep and nightmarish day,

praying to a God I have been told looks very much like the person pulling the trigger.


There are no new songs to sing while my hands dance to a routine they cannot forget

–good thing because my mind knows this wash and condition and repeat is an empty ritual–

I will never be clean.

The tune I am humming now sounds like sirens screeching in an eerie minor key, variations of families crying (the babies at a higher pitch) tires skidding on tarmac…

I’m not so much humming as I am screaming pain and desperation:

do you know what a gun shot sounds like when your chest is the speaker?


All the care I have been taught to rub into my dead strands is useless. My hair is brittle, crackling and falling into my lap by the fistful.

The strands are tangled with names I’ve seen splashed across white sheets and hung out to dry, stiff and still bearing the memories of people who were just trying to breathe, eat, make some money for the kids, love, curse, pray, gossip, cross the street…

I’m making new parts in my hair, maybe cornrows this time,

Nice and wide, room for all the names I am yet to learn.




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