Act I, Scene II: First Encounters; Age 10, Spring Time.
Death found us in winter
and brought with it a gathering of bodies
and blank faces
There we stood, Mama
and me, unprepared, on the back steps
fraying at the edges,
My grandfather is dead.
I could feel it in my bones that morning,
that cold, hollow feeling,
like all the warmth
had left us.
I knew I should have been home.
And, maybe, this could have all been avoided.
But the stench was too much.
[which I know to be the approach of passing ]
The fading of flesh,
The coagulation of blood,
signals the oncoming silence
to fill our old brick house.
for each other,
in a room full of
And all I wanted was your hands to comfort me.
But the chill of death left us frozen
our throats raw; the sound
unable to escape.
Death is a tyrant,
and God has left this house,
and the kitchen clock kept ticking.
This hurts. This hurts.
Scene Six: Daddy Issues; Love him,
even when he just doesn’t know how
I think I like to sing cuz my Daddy do.
When he sing, he find peace in the
and I’m forever looking for my piece of the world.
My Daddy might have lost his a long time ago, so
he sing hoping it comes back to him,
hoping it can find him in his armchair,
or when he close his eyes to pray.
He sing to a God who don’t seem to hear him,
but my Daddy gotta have
something to hold onto in the
it’ll swallow him whole
and he lost too much already.
So, sometimes, I sing hoping that he hear me,
hoping that a piece of him can make him whole again.
But my song, it don’t seem to reach him.
Cuz he sing hymns to a God that don’t seem to hear him,
and my song don’t seem to soothe broken
men. And this world’s got so many of them.
My Daddy’s voice too
pretty for the sad songs he
Act II, Scene V: Filling Holes
The world is on fire again
and I don’t know what shoes to wear,
so that when I run out into the streets,
and into the fray,
someone might consider me beautiful enough to save.
a body sits on the edge of the bed,
and I drink orange juice from the carton,
trying to decide how to feel
about how I’m feeling
He asks for a glass
and I dodge his kiss.
Placing the carton into the fridge
I tell him I must be up early, so
He should probably call a car.
There are no words.
I do not know how to navigate a lost world alone.
And though I don’t care much for company,
this burning longing and regret weighs on
the body. .
The world is on fire again.
And if I don’t have the right outfit,
who will save me?
My feet are cold,
and the high is gone,
but I can feel him asking to stay.
My answer is lost between the sheets,
vanished with the smoke clouds.
There are no words.
Just smeared mascara—
everything is jumbled again,
like fragments of film
or a scratched record stuck on repeat.
A rhythmic reminder of
the night’s incense, floral perfume,
and a sink full of dishes.
1 In the distance, screams. An orange haze shines through the window, warm.
A draft from the window
and I hear the clang of his belt buckle
and the switch of the door chain.
There are no words to be said.
Act III, Scene IV: A BOY at play
Across the alley, a swing set beckons a body,
“Come; seek refuge in the rock of the night’s pendulum.
Come, play. Think of the sky.”
[ a murmur of voices ]
A street lamp flickers on and a body begins to fade
into a shimmer. A creak of chains, back and forth,
cradles a body bathed in starlight.
[ flesh softening, shining ]
Body of blackness,
all the light of the world
Black still, in light of this.
Matthew Lewis is poet / playwright from Milwaukee, WI with an undying love for Black literature, R&B music, and soul food. Matthew’s work focus on his own Black queer experience, with an emphasis on the soft and tender parts.