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autumn/winter 2018

Almost Home

by Christian J. Collier

carll-es-urban botanical #1.PNG

 “Home is not where you live but where they understand you.” 

Christian Morgenstern


Perhaps, I have seen 

too much of this place & its people 

to feel truly comfortable here.


For years, I have known 

the face of the darkness 

that lives within the city limits


& stared, unflinchingly, into the pools of its eyes

& perhaps, that is why I have

such a difficult time calling this home – 


my tongue is barely even able 

to hold that small word steadily 

in the arena of my mouth


when I think about the large rebel flag 

that stands, to this day, like a sentinel

outside the tiny brown house


across the street from 

the elementary school where 

I go to play basketball – 


                                                                     or the cotton a white stranger

                                                                 quietly placed in my father’s lawn

                                                                   one night while my family slept

                                                                         to remind us of our place

                                                              & encouraging us all, without words,

                                                                          not to dream too brightly –


or the manager of the small café downtown

telling my Caucasian friends that

if they did not do something quick & decisive, 

Black people would claim & corrupt 

the very soul of the country –



all of this,

all of these deep blemishes


still remind me of my mother 

& how she once told me 


never to fall in love 

with something or someone


incapable of loving me back.


I cannot recall how many years my body 

has remained outside the full caress of this place,


but I know it grew weary, ages ago, 

of waiting for the day when this city, 


this almost home, could show me that 

its wide heart had finally tired of laboring 

to mute the percussive music of mine. 

Art: "Erosion Series: Urban Botanical #1" by Anna Carll

Christian J. Collier is a 2015 Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellow. He is an accomplished artist, public speaker, and educator who has shared the stage with members of HBO’s Def Poetry cast, Rock& Roll Hall of Fame members The Impressions, and Grammy-nominee Minton Sparks. Some of his works have been featured on The Guardian, and published in such publications as The American Journal of Poetry, TAYO Literary Magazine, The Seven Hills Review, and Freeze Ray, to name a few.

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