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A-Side - Daren Colbert

CW: Racial Slurs

To grow old & Black in America is to search

among the names buried beneath & not find yours /


My father can remember the white boy’s breath burning

up his nostrils after telling him this fountain ain’t for n— outside

the theater; spitting with his siblings from the balcony in response. They tell us things

have changed, that things will change, but

I can still hear n— ringing against my ears

from the blacktop in sixth grade during recess /

on the sidewalk in front of Siceluff Hall.

To know I share this language—

of burning & bullet wounds,

of books named after bodies of buildings named after bodies

of bridges named after bodies

of bodies named after bodies

tastes bittersweet.

How it has grown roots within my throat & that of my father’s

& of his father & of his & so on & so on …

until breath becomes a question

& death an answer.


To grow old & Black

among the names


My father spittin’ with his siblings.

They tell us things

I can still hear

this language—

how it has grown roots within

of my father

of his father

of his

& so on

& so on …


DAREN COLBERT is a writer and filmmaker from Missouri who's just trying to do his best. When he's not writing or making films, you can find him napping or watching a movie. Sometimes both. Okay, usually both. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Ghost Girls Zine, The Hyacinth Review, Moon City Review, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. He's on a quest for the perfect mango, so if you have any information that could help, please let him know.

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