Michael Frazier is a poet, educator and recent graduate of NYU where he studied Literary Arts and Black Narratives. He was a member of NYU’s 2017 slam team, which won the co-champion title of the 2017 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational in Chicago. Michael has performed at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Earshot at Shoestring Press, Gallatin Arts Festival, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, along with various venues and Universities in the New York City area. Most recently, he is an alum of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop at the University of West Indies. Soon he’ll be writing poems and teaching English in Kanazawa, Japan. His IG bio reads: Christ, Poetry, and Anime!
In the Voice of My Father to My Younger Self
I didn’t raise no punk ass nigga / No sissy ass shit in my house / ‘Fuck your mother mean I’m being too hard on you? / Hard is the palm / Hard is the fist / Hard is the belt / ‘Fuck she mean words hurt? / I didn’t raise no soft ass nigga / As if my seed could sprout a limp daisy / This shit / This shit I’m doing / This is callusing / Making a man out of you/ You want to be a man right? / A man got to be able to protect himself / How will you protect yourself with all that fat / Giggling around your torso / Your ass / Your ass, too fat / If you don’t lose that weight / A man’s gonna bag you up / Then you’ll know what it means for someone to be hard on you / Stop / That fuckin’ water works / The only water I want to see leaving your body is sweat / ‘Fuck you mean you tired? / ‘Fuck you mean you thirsty? / I said run, with your feet not your mouth / Catch the ball / If you can see it, you can catch it / If not, catch these hands / BOY I am a police officer / Don’t ever disrespect me in my house / By looking at me like that / Not looking at me like that / I’ve slammed bodies into chalk outlines for glaring at me like that / Who are you mumbling to? / Get your damn head out of the ceiling fan / All these little characters you’ve created gotta go / What the fuck is an imaginary friend / Boys play outside / Boys do what boys do / Not that / that pouting shit / Stop that pretending to be sick shit / That I can barely breathe shit / That I’m hungry shit / You always hungry, shit / If I’m going to feed you, imma put you to work / Character building / When I was your age, I was the bully / I made little boys like you my bitch / Your daddy’s been toting and hustling and manning these blocks / All my friends have died / but I am so blessed to have outrun every bullet / that’s been punk enough to chase me / I wish a nigga would steal what’s mine / So I am going to teach you how to shoot a glock / What do you mean it’s heavy? / Of course it’s heavy / You’re holding your life in your hands! / Don’t you fear a man kissing your neck / With a switchblade, crowbar, gun? / Stealing the life I gave you / back in the day I didn’t have a choice / It was either, learn or die / Die and learn what my father didn’t warn me / Or learn and dye my hands with a another niggas blood /When I first lifted you up/ You were the heaviest weight I’ve ever lifted/ You were not just my son / But the light that beat back every dark crooked finger from my past / I slaved doubles/ Dodged slurs and hooks in these streets/ for you Michael/ I know I’ve been silent as these bodies I introduce to morgues /But I hope my words are seared into your skin / And don’t call them scars / Call them birthmarks /Call them heirlooms /Call them anything but the pain I left you / I hope you touch them and think of your father.
“Fathers Do Not Provoke Your Children to Anger”
Now, when contemplating the ways of my father
my blood doesn’t stumble to the back of my neck, temples, palms.
Instead, my blood makes its rounds throughout my body
just as it always has—in and out
the heart until granted
the opportunity of a door.
I think of my father
when I prick my palm
with a butter knife
when I slice my gums
with dental floss
when I run a razor quick—
too quick—down and under my chin.
Whenever blood divorces itself from my body
I consider the infidelity of kinship
the way blood forgets it’s only part water
the way blood leaves and adapts
to whatever surrounds it
runs and makes a home of.
Blood does not stay for love
stays for necessity, convenience
waiting for its break from body.
An incision is permission
trauma is an excuse.
Blood don’t mean nothing
blood don’t mean stay
blood will just as quickly
sustain a life, as it would
dress a floor in satin.