- Be a Problem, and: To capture the landscape (for Somaliland), and: A History of Sound (Part 56)
Be a Problem
“How does it feel to be a problem?”—W. E. B. Du Bois
“OK, ma’am. You OK?”—Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia to Sandra Bland
I’m A Problem OkOk I’m A ProblemProblem I Am OkI’m A Ok ProblemProblem Ok I AmOk Problem, Problem OkI’m A Ok ProblemI’m Ok, ProblemProblem Are You OkOk Problem. Ok I AmOk Ok Ok Ok Ok Ok Ok Ok Ok OkProblem Ok I’mI’m A ProblemI Am A ProblemProblem I Am OkOk You Got A ProblemYou Ok, I’m A ProblemHi, I’m Problem!Hi, I’m Ok!Get Em’ Problem!Ok, I’m A ProblemOk Problem OkOk Problem OkOk Problem OkOk Ok Ok!Problem I Said OkProblem!Problem OkI’m Ok! [End Page 334]
To capture the landscape (for Somaliland)
Flatlands of salt, dry granular soil, tightly compact. Tree, solid and fibrous. Branch, soaked with hollows. I stop barefoot I press to imprint the crust onto my foot I ask can you take a picture—me amidst the nature you step back you snap and show it to me my face comes out blackened thick circles of joy where my eyes should be my jaw is turned that way and smiling. I glance onto the world the clouds seem closer the sky is sky blue and I wonder why the sky would ever be any other color why not blue why not light and wind and taut and flame and smooth and I ask you to take another you do and you grimace show me this time my skin is washed out not an absence of light but a clear an after grey only my clothes are alive the brown of my pants is too bright I look away and give you back the camera maybe we should change positions maybe it is the angle.
I move under tree you snap and it shows me not hanging but sitting on the branch the branch is breaking from my weight fungi hollowed out the inside nothing but bark I feel for the destruction you feel we have not captured the shot one more I ask here I will lay down on the crystalline crisp you say corroded maybe you should move your shirt I do you snap we look at it together this time I am all inner body you say with out skin with out organs not legible I ask why you don’t explain will you post these for me these nature shots you answer handing me the camera ask me when did capture become fresh how can we hold two definitions that never intersect I say we exist in proximity to earth and sound wave. Circles drawn around the buckled tree roots, a tortoise ventures out into the yellow light
A History of Sound (Part 56)
Click for larger view
View full resolution
[End Page 335]
Calvin Walds is a poet, scholar, and educator from Detroit. His current project concerns black obscurity, sonic abstraction, and the poetics of a “relational fugitivity,” a fleeing together. He has received fellowships from The Watering Hole and Callaloo, and has published writing in publications such as The Felt, Coldnoon: Travel Poetics, the Poetry Project newsletter, and Hyperallergic.