Read Poem: #16/1, by Elijah Gatlin-Tyler

I like breathing, but I like dying.

Molding my mind for the fight that rages inside, screaming at me “I wanna die”.

It’s hard to own this life.

It’s hard to live in a lie, when I know deep down inside it kills me every time.

But I bury it alive, wishing for the voice to fade away with time but time doesn’t heal it’s just another vague state of mind.

And I scream and I scream, and I toss and I turn, and all I want to be is as good as birth of the same person right beside me, the age and the humor.

But the only set aside is the color of the humor – the color of the skin the pain of my looks;

Am I too dark am I too light? Am I too skinny, not built right? What do I think truly inside and what do others compare me to be?

How can I live up to not being me to be accepted and respected?

And there the truth lies: I don’t like the comparison yet the comparison likes me.

And it haunts me.

And I cry and I cry and I ache in it’s pain, telling and pushing the tide to sound the same but the song is so lame that feels like a game that I wrote, drew, and published-

It’s quite annoying to tell. Telling the truth of my mind that I wish I was dead inside but death doesn’t bring me solace if my baby isn’t alive –

My baby Lilith.

How I long to hear her cry. Her laugh and her chuckle, and see the long glancing eyes, knowing her Raven black hair will be the thing I’ll love the most in this world, yet I’m still scared.

Too scared to care for another heir of a fortune I wish to repair from the backs of my people, who’s pure work created a country and yet an apology never looms in the air it’s all broken words.

Words that never stick.

It’s a hashtag when we die.

Another candle by a gates side, a shrine forgotten to time after the rain pours down and the sun begins to shine but light isn’t hope it’s just another drop of a dime of forgotteness.

Something insignificant.

But when you hear our children cry there’s no tear left in sight, just temporary anger you had building inside for an excuse to use our pain to burn homes to the ground –

The homes we built and the country we made, and when my people say “free our name” and do the same, we are terrorist.


We become the black stain on a movement that shares our skins name, yet only the essence that mimics the first fathers name is forgiven, no bullets are choosing.

The only time you think of our pain is when one of your kids die the same – as unarmed, doing nothing but living their name.

And it hurts. And now you’re in pain.

Now you feel our suffer.

When just the other day it wasn’t a problem, and now a single child of yours is slain, while our tribes and homes have been tamed to listen and not speak.

Cower and hide.

And do or die if words speaks from our mouth, then only will the cuffs come out.

But it’s all in vain. Because what is equality when my people don’t know the name?

As I live my truth in my own holy name, a shroud of darkness thicker than my own brain brings around shame, and hates me for the love I’ve ordained.

Into this world there is nothing but hate.

And I bare it with me too;

Hate for not being loved, hate for not being touched, hate for not being cared for, hate for the sake of hating others rather than hating myself because I wake everyday living the lie that I’m ok when the only thing I want to do is die.

Die in darkness.

And yet Lilith keeps me sane.

But my brain is a never ending train of selfish thoughts for the life I live:

Am I honest or do I lie?

Is it sickness or is it health?

Must I marry myself opposite, or be the opposite?

When I walk down the lonely street, but still has crowds looking down on me, how do I speak?

Shall bass enter my tone, or should I continue in the skin I’m in and the voice I hold, more certain of my heart?

These thoughts tear me apart. And I fear the day when I’ve lived a life in vain in a way that’s not in my name because my chin must be up. My pride must not be touched.

I must be tough.

And yet all they see, is a black weak Twink; afraid to say anything. But this is me saying something.

Proudly and honestly that this is my name, that this is my life –

And the secrets I held inside that shine inside, dwindle down by the life I experience now.

And I go it alone. Go because I can. Go because I must.

Go for the sake of swimming. Although I’m afraid to drown because swimming I know not –

yet I float;

I float with the water lining my drums to enhance the tunes of the dudes who told me I’m no use, and I’m just a sorry excuse.

And so I cry, because I’m human too – and not because I’m weak.

I’m a black man and I can’t cry and that’s how I’m seen on the outside, but inside I’m crying that I’m not of your gender, but I share in your race, please see me.

Please accept me.

More than you I’m a triple threat, while your skin alone is a single war,

and on a spectrum of terror they see us the same, so why do we fight for their name?

It’s ok to not understand.

It’s alright to have questions.

It’s not alright to bruise and break.

It’s to love not to hate, and everyday I’m still learning the same because even to this day it hurts to stand next to a white persons holy gates, afraid that I’ll be the next verse in a song-

another name that’s prolonged in an epic prologue that bathes in the haunting history written on the stone wall.


She’s my story for another day.


Author: poetryfest

Submit your Poetry to the Festival. Three Options: 1) To post. 2) To have performed by an actor 3) To be made into a film.

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