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Landon Smith: California Poets Part 6, Three Poems

Landon Smith

October 18th, 2023

California Poets: Part VI

Landon Smith

Three Poems

if there is one thing i know its that limbo is real and i’m just

buildings in the water now Felt joy one time but didn’t trust it New lips on my pen cap can’t speak softly so I think four roads to the left Where they ain’t been dreamin of new timelines every three minutes behind lost teeth and Buy Black signs Turned another poem into a lecture and couldn’t breathe myself to a lighter me

I’m sinkin, mama. I ain’t touched sand since the moonlight And my hands got heavy when I gave up tryin Smellin burnt bridges again And I forgot how to forgive so I said goodbye to the better me Kissed the right side of that cheek and stepped onto the water since being adrift is the only love I’ve ever known

And I been hurtin, mama These crystals not keeping me afloat I can’t paint scenes like the heart I can’t touch And I left my last hole in the casket they buried me in


I hang with poets so I don’t have to explain why I say things like: There is no such thing as a good cop or better yet All cops should stop existing or better yet All cops deserve to be punched in the throat no dialogue no we need to have these conversations no we need to listen to both sides I hang with poets so I don’t have to explain that this poem is not an autobiography Or that maybe it is when I say on Tuesday, I got loose tongued and called a judge out his name then kicked a squad car dead in the chin broke every bone in that hand holding a bible that I would not swear on and reiterated that i meant all disrespect did not bite my tongue knowing viruses are airborne / that when I shot that cop last Thursday it was not an accident That in a perfect world all cops would be toilet paper And my pen is not state sanctioned so this is violence you must condemn Must tell me my poems send the wrong message hat I am ok to bleed fifty-six minutes on an unhoused tent’s pillow

Whistling Through a Jail Fence is the Highest Form of Protest Until the State Builds Another One and You Vote in Support of It

Pig bragging about jail facilities Talks about how he’s proud to work here White men plastered on brick walls bowties and crooked smiles pale skin smiles cutting teeth on all the Black lives they stole and breaking my jaw just for fun Badge lookin over my shoulder through plexiglass Reminder that I can choose the waves too, if I want And plenty of my letter could kiss the flames to remind me solitude can be a prison, too so count my blessings while I’m given them That this life ain’t my own That this life ain’t mine to own That this life can be barbed wire on handcuffs to remind me of the cuts on my wrists And cement has lost its taste And love left me here to bleed so I don’t remember how it feels to feel

Haven’t written a poem in months Spirits ain’t been talkin, grandma And this jail got heroes work here signs so I know this timeline ain’t real Commerce peekin into my jail cell and I can’t close my eyes without dreaming of the waves That’s my blood on the concrete, Maam, yes.

If you find the rest of my voice, pass it through the bars Deputy said safety is a synonym for prison And prison is a synonym for my life Debt collector at my borrowed doorstep hoping to take my knees this time around And death is the easy way out Since prison is just a synonym for Amerikkka And Amerikkka is just a synonym for put your mouth on the curb

Author Bio:

Landon Smith (he/him) is a father, a professor, a poet, half Mende and half Balanta & Fulani, the amethyst geode on your desk, Angela Davis' afro, Frantz Fanon's pocket notebook, Walter Rodney’s fingernail, and your favorite pillow.

Despite his institutional degrees, he really became a poet through the East Side Arts Alliance in Oakland. He has work published in many publications. Landon thanks his sister Alia for buying him his first journal, Brit Hill for pushing him to read poetry in public, and Black Freighter press for publishing his first book - No Bedtime Stories of Soil. Abolish all prisons and police.


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