Poet Eve Williams is a 2017 Sustainable Arts Foundation Awardee and the 2018 Buffalo rep to the Women of the World international poetry slam in Dallas. She first entered the spoken word scene in Buffalo 15 years ago and now publishes videos of her work on a Facebook page titled Unfiltered. Her poems “I’ve been having a hard time with white people lately,” “I know you Rachel Dolezal,” and “Black Girl Gone” have garnered national attention and she has been featured on several blogs including AfroPunk, SonofBaldwin and KinfolkKollective.

1 poem

by Eve Williams

My father looks like Emmett Till

My father looks like Emmett Till/did        when he was the same age
My son looks like my dad did when he was standing in front of the house on Alameda at 3
And I wonder how many other people see so much of their dead in the living/ 
                                    look at their loved ones haunted by history and could be’s
                                    confusing decades with centuries/ 
                                    photos at newsstands with family albums/ 
                                    buried the living with their dead/
                                    us who hold contempt for sedentary objects/ 
that beg for nothing but take so much space/ 

The other day someone told me everything will be ok if    I raise my boy properly 
and I admired the prayer where his eyes might be/ if he hadn’t gauged them to survive
               It sure is hard to live with all these ghosts all the time
I’d like to not see but 
                             I was 17 when Beloved’s mother called to me and I learned my name
                             Mary Turner/ I saw her/ in the eyes of another sister 
                             wretched and tattered like a hurricane 
                             I’ve been drown by them/ them eyes have born despair 
                                                                 / wrapped in blankets  
                                                                 /smothered by unanswered prayers
And it must be nice
for all those to whom things is simple
                                                                 A tree is just a tree
                                                                 A rope is a rope

And the ocean that sweet bliss

Blessed be     that one boy surrounded by boys who don’t know the names claimed by trees 
                        and the sea/ soil/ full of all that blood longing and rage 
                        alone     
                        alone     
                        alone 
                                                   with all these befores
                        who is still trying to find the word for how nothing is just what it is
                                                                                                                             ---  no-one is 
                        and he forgets his name 
                        til someone Bobby maybe 
                        shouts it into the night &
                        it’s swallowed by it & 
                        he wonders how long it’ll be til he is 
                        til his Grandma calls to him & 
                        he becomes one of them that sits in the collective 
                        memory of only black boys and girls alone 
                        alone staring at a rope, a tree, a sea