Types of Burns: Love Letter on the Eve of Revolution by Jasmine Smith
Black Lives Matter. We must all do what we can, one individual choice at a time, to dismantle white supremacy—in our selves, our relationships, our communities, and our institutions. Frontier stands in unrelenting support of the protestors demanding change—we send you every prayer, every bit of energy we have. Stay safe and stay healthy and stay bold.
Types of Burns is a space for Black voices who have something to say about this moment. This may be lyric essay, poetry, photography, etc. Submit your work here. We sincerely thank Jasmine and every Black artist who has helped make Frontier what it is today. Today, we are publishing an urgent poem by Jasmine Smith.
Love Letter on the Eve of Revolution
I’m all of wanting. only blues
seems to make sense these days.
to touch you like parted
vowels from harp teeth. I can’t breathe,
therefore, I am greedy for passage
of air: clarinets cleared of cold
coughs & lowdown tonk-house songs
slapped out my anger.
how can a strangled chord
progression picked in love
sound like something other
than violence bellowing below
the belt? how might I chorus
hornets into sonnet when this mouth feels
a containment? my tongue a stiff
unsoaked reed. I keep tryin’ to play
every undigested place
of our existence but my tongue
so dogged out, even my notes flatten cruel.
will I draw or blow lovestruck, a gap between
your eyes or sugar seams parting braids?
will I ride Northbound without turning?
I beget you what little I still have:
my body throaty, a staged pathos, at 3 am,
the trombones’ bent melodies, and riot of beaten
drum skins. of honest folks, this world makes
sinners and ramblin’. I know my blues seem too mean,
but how can one love upon bended knees?
Jasmine Elizabeth Smith (she/her) is a poet from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of California in Riverside. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and a recipient of the Glucks Art Fellowship. Her work has been featured in Black Renaissance Noir, POETRY, and Terrain’s Letter to America Anthology among others. Her poetic work is invested in the diaspora of Black Americans in various historical contexts and eras. She is the Poetry Editor and a Poetry Program Specialist for the Black Lights Art Collective. She currently teaches Language Arts and Creative writing in the Inland Empire of Southern California and in her spare time works with local K-12 students in arts outreach programs.