for the THEM!HOOD.
“Stratigraphy – The study of the layers (strata) of sediments, soils, and material culture at an archaeological site[.]”
V. MODERN LAYER
and each time the boi diespour one out for ‘em.
the black word is left to the air againcrywhole hailstorms.
new kindling in every mouth /love harderthan thunder.
new dances for all the dust.all the living done together.
IV. 2013 – 2017
their fingertips cartographers of the landplay the dozens with the devil.
meet red clay in the jaw /flame deathmans be for everybody.
slate lining the ribcage /funny box run right over.
anoint altars with honest touch.
III. 2006 – 2012
throat a cavern of infinitywaterto a whale.
hair of pitch-pine smokenappy as a briar patch.
and hands content with emptinessan appetitefor every breath.
the black word became the boiayyyyyye.
II. 1995 – 2005
and so this black word spoke itself anew.aw shit.
declared itself a body / a beating fire /go off, nigga.
a burning heart /yo, that’s lit.
a brown skin etiology.
in the beginning there was the word.oh word?
and that word was black.ayyyyyye.
but this primordial black lacked a glyph;
a phoneme with no flesh equivalent.damn, that’s cold.
About the Poet:
Mia S. Willis is a Black performance poet from Charlotte, North Carolina. Their work has been featured by or is forthcoming in Under the Belly of the Beast (Dissonance Press), FreezeRay, Curating Alexandria, WORDPEACE, Peculiar, Foothill, Button Poetry, and Slamfind. Mia’s poem “hecatomb.” won the 2018 Foothill Editors’ Prize, earning nominations for a Pushcart Prize and for inclusion in Best New Poets. In 2019, Mia has been named the first two-time Capturing Fire Slam Champion, a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry, the Young Artist Fellow at Chashama’s ChaNorth residency, and a performing artist on RADAR Productions’ Sister Spit 2020 Tour. Their debut poetry collection, monster house., was the 2018 winner of the Cave Canem Foundation’s Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize and is available with Jai-Alai Books.