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We don't talk

Zuggie Tate

about suicide in the hood;

we praise the Lord. Scream & holler

like we tryna wake the dead.

They must not have meant to do it

Acting like he just sleeping,

pretending she ain’t choose to be there.

And we listen

to men preach about God’s plans.

Them right there had a plan, found

their fastest way out. When I was 14,

my upstairs neighbor’s son committed suicide.

My mother say she heard the shot

heard the body drop

heard his spirit fly right by like he was in a rush

Maybe he was still running. Maybe he had someplace

better to be. Had to get there faster than a bullet.

Faster than a ticking clock. I too have youthfully dreamed

of this better place. Once, I thought about running

faster than a passing thought. Once, I heard

of a 12-year-old queer child. Heard his name

was Nigel.

The news reporter say he killed himself

Say his bullies made him do it

And they call this a tragedy. Call it an unfortunate act

of God. I remember thinking about this a lot, how lucky

I was to have survived all this time. Thought myself blessed

for not having been tempted away.

However, now

I run another’s hands. Worry some man will make me

an early ghost. Send my spirit rushing wild to someplace better.

Whether he is draped in navy blue or sexual confusion, either way

church folk will say I deserved it or the devil made ‘em do it

That my death will get covered up

in hallelujahs & praise worship.

The preacher will say,

God wanted this and maybe He did, maybe that man who kills me will be God

or at least be treated like one.

Whether him exonerated or my transness being blamed, in any case

I’ll be the sinner. Maybe Hell has a special place for me. Maybe

that’ll be the first time I felt warmth.

And that thought scares me

to death,

that dying could be the only heat I’ll have in this life,

whether I choose it or someone else chooses for me.

What is suicide to a black trans girl, if I’m always blamed

for my own demise? What is existing, if I’m always considered my own end?

In the hood, we don’t talk about how life ain’t always worth living.

We simply try to live until it is or until we can’t help to keep from dying.

Praise the Lord.

Zuggie Tate (she/her) is a graduate of CWRU with a BA in sociology. She received Margie Hope’s Living Heritage Award for her work as an advocate for trans issues. She works as a writer and performance artist, and she was published in the Black Midwest Anthology and has forthcoming work. She is based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Socials: @teachmehowtozuggie & @zuggiepoetic

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