The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2019

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NOV 2019 Issue
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desert creature

a three-part meditation
on black queer liberation


from the time eye was a child

new york was my dream

lights, all the people

bagels, coffee + cream

escaping the south

invisible chains

jim crow tap dancing

inside my parents’ brains

john c. calhoun

still gripping the reins

watching the demise

of my people

ashy-kneed on sundays

beneath steeples

from the time eye was a child

new york was my dream

death-dropping on weekends

blowing off steam

hoards of queers

yelling my name

beautiful friends

scrubbed free of AIDS’ stain

erecting a church

using only our hands

all shades of black

from each of god’s lands

from the time eye was a child

new york was my dream

moved after college

too young, smooth + lean

eye did meet the wolves

who knew i’d arrive

unequipped to keep

my black ass alive


upon receiving my first tv-writing job, eye had about a week to uproot my life, relocating from from nyc to los angeles. having just turned 28, i’d loved + lost. i’d also loved + gained. wealthy in ways eye was raised to understand. broke according to wells fargo. a year + some change out of grad school, eye certainly hadn’t healed from the experience. what i’d inherited was survival; a by-product of which being survival-mode. survival-mode doesn’t let you heal. to me, healing was a superficial, slightly-scary buzzword floating around coffee shops + the internet. that + what jesus did.

transformed by my new relationship to the sun + ocean + wild-west sky, palm trees, bud-tenders, taking my time + solitude, eye began to feel the city melt away. for the first time in my life, making consistent “good money,” let survival-mode melt away. or so eye thought. in reality, she wears many faces. other people were still running my life. having so few examples of people like me, coming from where eye came from, dreaming my dreams, eye let them. life happens to you, right? eye knew that life happening to me didn’t feel good, but that’s all eye knew. it’d take months to learn that while pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. months before under-and-inner-standing that a well-paid slave is still a slave. months before dealing with the reality of vampires. energy-harvesters. they walk among us. black-white-light is their favorite.

eye thought i’d moved to la for a job. for the kind of healing advertised on instagram; yoga in the park, hibiscus tea, sound baths. money. in the wild-west, eye did find these things. eye also found my demons. refusing to learn their names, they chased me to the desert. or, rather, eye let them.


on the subject of liberation, eye have only this:

fuck fear.

it ain’t real.

we’ve been lied to. all of us.

the person you’re waiting on to liberate you

isn’t coming. you are that person. your childhood dreams

are still waiting for you to free them. we were raised to believe

fear makes the world go ‘round. and it does. if you want it to. but if you don’t

the other face the world wears is love. corny as that sounds

it’s true. eye suggest beginning by giving your

fears a name. learn everything about

them. observe their every move.

then realize you have

nothing to be

afraid of.


on a temperate, empty-skied wednesday, you find yourself alone, in joshua tree national park. for miles, nothing speaks in a language you understand. bees collaborate with the wind. wind collaborates with the grass. sun collaborates with your skin. stone collaborates with itself. you have no cell service, which feels amazing. jesus didn’t have cell service. not the at&t or t-mobile kind. the lizard you passed on the trail has no email to return. the way it bobbed in afternoon sun makes you smile. you notice that you are black, queer, powerful, alive + free. your freedom is not contingent upon having no money, or no fiancée. the collaboration between bee + wind + sun + stone, with the surprise guest feature of birdsong, all whir together into a silent, inner-knowing. you’ve lived through the worst of it + the best is yet to come. to your left, the face of a praying mantis emerges in the rock formation. walking south from 14th street, you hear a friend call your name. for a moment, you feel semi-famous, then sprint half the block to throw your arms around her neck. her eye shadow matches mary’s tunic, from the stained-glass nativity rendering beneath the steeple in your childhood church. for a long time, you sit in silence. long enough for the desert crickets to do their thing. two hikers emerge from the bush. you are not as alone. where you’ve been is not where you’re going. where eye am is beautiful. it is all eye have. who knows how much time it’ll take you. the journey back home is long.


korde arrington tuttle

korde arrington tuttle (@knotahaiku) is playwright, poet + multidisciplinary maker, hailing from charlotte, nc. his five younger sisters + brothers are the coolest thing about him.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2019

All Issues