"Bad Haiku Workshop," "Safe Space," and "PrEP"

Bad Haiku Workshop 

the fewer descendants
of slaves you have to deal with,
the better the school.

without slavery
all the schools would be good—‘stime
we acknowledged this.

when we say good school
we mean a school unburdened
by slave progeny.

a good school is one
with very few descendants
of African slaves.

the school unburdened
by the descendants of slaves
is called a "good school.”

I send my kids to
good schools where there are very few
descendants of slaves.

 

 

Safe Space 

nobody's safe in the fast pace of the rap race/So keep your hoodies on/ and your
boots laced/ Now I'm out, beaming back to the boondocks/ Nobody's safe chump, so
keep your doors locked - EPMD, "Nobody's Safe Chump"

like you, I like a little safe space. I don't like what's beyond the comfort zone.
Sometimes, I am spaced uncomfortably by zone safety. There's too much flyover
country. Knowing people from flyover country can be unsafe. Even in cities, flyover
country can start within a mile of the main drag. In the cities, the breweries, dog bars,
and cupcake shops mean change done come.

It’s not safe to hold a grudge too long. One sign you’re in an unsafe place is a
Confederate flag anywhere outside of a museum, or a Lil’ Jon sleeveless T. It’s not
safe to hold grudges against people who, despite their other shortcomings, at least
understand why you hold a grudge. People who believe your version of history are
safer. It's unsafe for history to have versions.

People who don’t know history are unsafe. People who know history and pretend it
doesn’t affect the present time are very unsafe. People who don’t carry history with
them into voting booths are unsafe.

I never feel I’m in a safe space so I always pray. I always triple-check the screen
doors and the sliding doors because I don’t feel safe.

I want to feel safe but I don't feel safe because I don't know what I've done to deserve
safety.
Lots of people more virtuous than me don't feel safe.

I always expect to feel unsafe in Walmart & McDonald's, but I go because
I'm financially unsafe. Actually McDonalds' fries make me feel safe, though the
burgers don't. I always feel safe at Ruth’s Chris and want to feel safe there more
often.

Do you know The Clipse, or Philly’s Most Wanted, or N.O.R.E.? Who would win a safe
space contest between Pharrell and Kim Burrell? Where did Skateboard go to get
happy? What happened to that joy? You can't always tell who's promulgated safety
by who a talk show host uninvites, though one can learn what's safe to say
from the experience. Kim makes me feel "safe in His arms" – some call this delusion,
but it is delusion that makes me willing to risk safety. I don’t have any Kim
Burrell albums but I helped Pharrell move this dope for 15 years. I feel complicit
in creating the lack of safety I need her to sing to me about getting from my delusion.

Popularity ain't safe.
White famous ain't safe.

People who expect safety are unsafe. Maybe my kids could go to a Christian school, a
safe space. Go ye therefore and proselytize each other in safety. Behold, I send you
out as lambs among other lambs.

People who think they can't change are too safe. People who think people can't
change are unsafe.

The Neptunes produced “Use Your Heart” by SWV, which is my jurnt. If loving this
song could make me safe, I’d be safe.

Barack and Michelle are never in safe space but they are in safer space now.

Marriage is safe.

George Zimmerman ain't safe, and George Zimmerman ain't safe.

When I say we disagree, I mean that whatever you come from that makes you
different from me makes you dangerous. The fact that we disagree is my critique of
your upbringing — in effect, you are upset about an environment that was imposed
upon me. Without our differences, we see eye to eye.

How can I make you agree with me to make you safer? If you persist in disagreeing
with me I will continue to mark you unsafe in my roll. Don’t make me unfriend you.

Being wrong is profoundly unsafe.
Not calling out wrongdoing is unsafe.
Calling out wrongdoing is unsafe.
Facts are unsafe.

All presidents are unsafe to somebody.
One president is unsafe for everybody.
Liars are unsafe.

In a contest between very unsafe and unsafe, vote unsafe. Every time.

Yea, verily I say unto thee
Senility is unsafe, and dementia is unsafe,
but few things are unsafe
like a lack of home training.
Now the solar panels in the White House ain't safe. The Easter egg roll ain't safe.
Michelle's garden ain't safe.

The womb is unsafe,
the earth is unsafe,
the sowing, unsafe
the reaping, unsafe.

Your chocolate lab: safe
The dog walking you: unsafe.

My safe space ahead:
no dogs over 40 pounds, please.

To make you feel safe I take off my shades,
say "excuse me"
to you when you need to say
"excuse me"
to me in the aisle.

I was safe in the interview
but watch how I act when I get in the house,
how I renege.

SHHHAFE!!

[I never felt safer than when I was in my daddy's arms and I think people that never
felt safe that way are more likely to be unsafe when they get older. I feel unsafe
around people who find this controversial.]

Brother, she can be opened. She is unsafe. Sister, he wants to open you. He is unsafe.
Brother, he wants to open you. He is unsafe. Sister, she wants to open you. She is
unsafe.

Desire is unsafe.

Guns are unsafe. So many dangerous people,
so many safeties off.
In America, the people most likely to own guns
are the safest people in America.

People who don't want to make people safer are unsafe.

Having fewer children is inevitable once you get to a certain safety level.

It's not safe, the religion where you can't leave things to God when you've lost a fight.

Comparatively speaking, campus is always a safe space.

The first day of workshop
the professor proclaimed it a safe space.
Later, the professor said we were evangelists,
that the real work
was beyond our comfort zones.
I think the real work won't mind
if I make nice and graduate first,

just to be safe.

 

PrEP 

Narrow veins,
what they call
arteriosclerosis
they run in my family,
kinda how I'm built.
Doc knows I lost my dad
and five uncles,
says I could change my diet,
that he knows it's not easy
but I could do it.

He gives me this look
and a piece of paper
with the 'ol Mediterranean triangle on it,
then another with some dire stats,
his way of saying
do better.

The holy roller vegetarians,
the sanctimonious vegans
and lukewarm pescatarians,
all thinking not doing something
will save them.
I like cabbage and collards,
but I also like salt and bacon and red meat,
so I take the BP meds and statins.
Call it compromise.

Doc is supposed to tell me
I can change. I guess it's his job.
But it's been a few years now
of me seeing him,
and I think we're both kinda figuring
that I won't.

 

 

Cedric Tillman holds a BA in English from UNC Charlotte and graduated from American University's Creative Writing MFA program. He is a Cave Canem Fellow and a former Nation Magazine (now Boston Review) 'Discovery' contest semifinalist. Cedric's poems appear in several publications including Pleaides, Rove, The Manhattanville Review, Apogee Magazine of High Point University, Iodine Poetry Journal, Kakalak, and Home Is Where: an anthology of African American Poets from the Carolinas. In 2017, he was named a semifinalist for the University of Akron, Philip Levine, and Pleiades Press Editor poetry prizes, and a finalist for the Press 53 Poetry Prize. In 2018, he was named a finalist for the Pleiades Press Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize. His debut collection, entitled Lilies in the Valley, was a semifinalist selection for the 2011 42 Miles Press Poetry Award, and was published by Willow Books in 2013. Cedric hails from Lilesville and Charlotte, NC. He currently lives in northern Virginia.

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