Restless Flying / a writer’s protest manual (to you) / Denis Waswa

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Untitled. Fused silk. Photograph by Kevin Ryan.
Courtesy of the Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Foundation.


I want to call this an exercise in black counterintuition
but it is simply more—
It is an exercise in “unsayability”
an exercise protesting quietness (not silence)
It is a humming, an expression of my conquered selfhood
in a language in excess of words, and sounds
a communication of the unspoken, the unsaid
the unremarked, the unrecognized,
in the ongoing action of quietness
overlooked by an absence—its “inaudibility.”

It’s an exercise of repossession in
THIS space of colonial grotesque, protest,
and counterprotest
Listen, hear Fanon? Mbembe? Ngugi? Selasi? Hartman?
Maathai? Campt? Binyavanga? Spivak?
I speak through this quietness—
I speak through it sonically
in a frequency beyond what you hear
I am in conversation with myself
with you, louder in quietness than I would
with an open mouth.

This is an exercise of walking HOME
through the oak trees–along the Mississippi
As I walk, ghosts speak to me—
“The waves will sweep you off”
“I’m safe inside”—I don’t answer
I hide me in my writing
and my writing has an inside
so, you won’t tell my story
and the terror of my trying—
the drive of my destruction.

The empty shells of me are full of themselves
they won’t say I’m happy.
My life ain’t anything to boast about
when I know my skin may kill me one day.
So, am writing this to teach me how to let go
To drive me to sleep when I get Home,
because I fear to let this me into the world.
I fear being outside
because numbers don’t lie, do they?
Even Floyd was outside when it happened—

I write to compose what is composite inside me
It is the only way I avoid risking outside.
Writing is my freedom
It’s an exercise in escape from breakdown.
I’m not writing,
I’m freeing myself—
I’m delicate, broken, glass
It’s easy to see me dead
If you use death to see/define me.

I make a thousand words just to go to bed
in a sense—I’m reaching
I’m reaching out to create a movement
that is how I move
I move in my letters, in my syllables
I move in my lines, in my quietness
Knocking at you—doors
Not open to understand me
but that means nothing right now
because my writing is limitless
my reach is reach-ness.
My liveliness is in the now
I’m focused on getting Home
And sleeping soundly, listening to raindrops on the roof
And thunder at a distance
Because they make me forget about my invisibility.

Gentle reader,
I resisted sending you this crying template
I refused you seeing this passage
I wanted to remain in passage with my crying
But I want your passage to me writing
To embrace my assignment
My missal
The silent projection of my quietness
And the movement to my subconscious
A ship through memory
Of the silent violence in scripted on this file
My formed form-ness-less
That have remained this way
Like a refrain
Of the BLM movement
Still, a break,
Still, a continuum—

I share this file with you, my nakedness
My movements in the southern grotesque-space
My murmuring,
My humming
My relation to you
My refusal to relate
My protest assignment
An exercise of our entanglement
That keeps this file open
A signification that our relation has no end
I will see you again
I will hear you again
I will think with you, again
Seeing this file see us in passage, together.

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This is part of the cluster Restless Flying. Read the other posts here.

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