Editor’s note: This week, as people around the world continue to stand for Black lives, Deep Water welcomes a guest editor, the writer Samaa Abdurraqib, and her selection of a poem for our time. Abdurraqib’s prose has appeared in collections such as “Arab Voices in Diaspora” and “Teaching Against Islamophobia,” and her non-academic writing has appeared in “I Speak For Myself: American Women on Being Muslim,” online magazine The Body Is Not An Apology and elsewhere.

This evocative poem by LaLa Drew begins by naming this dystopian/dysfunctional moment, presenting it as both our reality and a televised fiction that we are watching unfold. The dystopian world presents chaos, with two facts that are abundantly clear: There is the “all-knowing majority” who have destroyed the world, and then there is everyone else – those who are oppressed and in the minority. The poem ends unresolved, with questions and uncertainty in cliffhanger style, which seems fitting for this current moment that is full of both a pandemic and an uprising for Black lives.

LaLa Drew is a writer, poet, activist and organizer. Their experience spans many identities, walking through life as a Black, queer, transracial adoptee. Living, creating and loving in Portland, Maine, has given them a unique appreciation of power and community. Drew works to infuse their activism into every moment of every day. They are the creator of BloodLetting: a poetry night for queer and femme people of color, and their work can be found in several publications, including magazines Sisu, Incomer and Poliquads.

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By LaLa Drew

We are being eased into our new dystopia
scenes of the most fantastical sci fi show

no longer distinguishable from reality
these are the early days

where a voice over takes the audience back
to when society first noticed a shift

calling back to the now wise minorities who
knew the breaking was coming

saw all of this written on the walls
of caves they had huddled in for shelter

before they were driven out
by the all knowing majority:

breakers of the world

sitting in board rooms clouded
full of cigars and lined with underage whores

because that’s what they call them
because that’s how they see them

like underage and whore are not a contradiction
like being sold is their fault

children stolen from lives and homes
penalized for being poor and

neglected and trapped inside a system that
denies what is in the mirror

writes off the image because distortion
is comfort, clarity is threatening

NPR dances circles around madness
weaving sparse elements of humanity

into this story we are all actors in
who will emerge the hero?

how long will this breaking go on?
will we come out unchanged?

will we remain the same?
tune in next week to find out.

Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “My First Voice,” copyright 2020 by LaLa Drew, appears by permission of the author.


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