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Jordan Jace

I look through the eye of history, hard to describe the position of the hold it has on me, 

not chokehold,                I held still                        the strange sense of the present tense (an expansion) 

              taking place in a continuum (the past)


              hold up               the bridge         hol(e)d in contempt        hold(,)   serve     hold out on       scissor

hold      can’t hold a candle            hold it             hold the phone           hold back       hold fast

                   take hold       (presence forever)          on hold                    hold over       hold forth         hold

true       cargo hold         hold good           hold fort          hold firm              hold ground      hold that          thought              hold (peace)       hold together     meaning          hold it down        meaning         [held] together      hold     harmless       hold in                hold to             hold into              strangle hold      hold anchor hold close            toe hold             hold at bay          hold breath                                   hold my hand

              get a hold of yourself                    hold the candle                hold steady      hold ones own

hold noun/        verb  / stillness/ surrender          /sleep      / collec              ()tive))                collect(h)ive

held      hold      archive -              /     (s)    - ing    (s)


I want to put a large set of parentheticals to encompass the previous stanza. I want it to exceed the

height of each section, of each vertical line. 


After too many hours with headphones the density of what is insular dawns on me, 

              I emerge from millions of some quantity of depth,                                    surface 

towards an exterior (my room or the grocery store or you beside me on the beach) as I am

 still                     in a zone of ‘realization’,              (touching the face of relation)


              (swarmed in relation) walking between buildings with people living in them, directly west and

a bit north of skid row where the police are clearing tents and taking shit like it belonged to them. Somewhere across time my grandmother was evicted. I do not know who enforces evictions, if

occasionally the police come to sweep (raid) a place or if that only happens if they’re black or ‘undocumented’. They raid a place bc while unacknowledged the government sees that in the soul of

each person of color is an unceded nation and by the logics of capital they can’t dislodge it so they

starve them and displace them. My grandmothers old home and my fathers vacant home and the

homes of houseless people being dragged away from them are axially related they spin, not in place

either to each other or to modems of power. This kind of relation looks to fracture the dazzled face

of love, its reflective facet its I see you in me and you see me in you. 


                   (touching the face of the pond, not the way Narcissus did, not seeing your ‘self’ (see: image)

                   there as the captivating image of the other, but knowing yourself to be there (in the image) 

                   both as a sensation and an image within the bounds of those senses, a ‘subject’, maybe better

                   said a nexus, forever within the bounds (relations)  of their histories)


I can’t explain why I love my grandmother so much. I want to enter into a science fiction film and join

to her variant time and be a cell of the negative that is her shadow. If there is a ‘body’ to the shadow (is

a shadow made of light? “The shadow, technically, is not a tangible thing. It is an illusion created by the absence of light in contrast to the surrounding area which is now illuminated… so, technically, the

shadow is not made of atoms” (1) ...


               I want to follow you so I move forward


I wonder what we are made of. She wrote me four letters in college. I took the $20s and ‘forgot’ to

answer. One night two three four years after I realized she might be dead and so googled her and paid

$10 for her phone number and called all three and the first two were wrong but one person wished me luck.  


Here is the poem in blue ink. Indigo lapis, whichever colonial jewel is associated with a time that might otherwise be known as a step in primitive accumulation. I’m scared of what these forward terms do to

the lives encased inside them. Or the lives that can’t lived inside them (black lives) that are supposed to

be spoken for in the sense of the common good being spoken for. It was a frenchman who painted The Barber of Suez—which I first discovered on the cover of a prominent black poets second book of

poetry—what was once my favorite painting of black subjects and which I will probably tattoo on my

right thigh. If the idea is to be made sovereign from its history… there are consequences I haven’t

figured out yet. 


I asked her about my grandfather, she moved from the south to the north in the year 1960 which I inaccurately attributed to northward migration after the end of indentured servitude (sharecropping).

I don’t know when manufacturing ‘welcomed’ black people into a new indebtedness in a ‘new’

territory (when the north had always been a scene in the production of slavery) 


               love was a direct report              after a profound and long absence


My grandfather died from a lung disease called “saudus”. He designed and constructed elevators. I do

not know if he moved to Paterson with my grandmother or was born there or got there some other

way. I only know the man by my father’s frown. Most distant (through death) most intimate (through

the multiplying factor of trauma and lineage) relative. 


Somewhere in here is the behavior/whims of capital and the development and loss (dispossession) of

black lands and lives (I am writing on stolen land I am writing of stolen land the land where my grandmother was raised is a region called the Pee Dee region for the natives of whom there are

currently around 200 (around is troubling, it is proximity to life and to the social fragility of their lives

as they produce and are produced in the remains of history, in the weather, the old expression that rain

is the sky crying, which speaks more to our fascination with tears, which may be connected to all those

that history has vanished in the name of whiteness, by vanished I mean murdered and many other

words I won’t give time attention or energy to here) (around in that it both circles their quantity and describes their relation, they are around one another, as though when we gather they become

proximate, impossible to see, become a nearly equal to, linger in shades within and without of the

binary) The word equation has no meaning if it does not relate their deaths, the servitude of my

ancestors, and of the bleeding force that is the present))


In the temporal plane of history I do not know where I am supposed to be or what I am supposed to

do, circle, elope, labor, patrol, I am hoping to learn to protect those I love, now and then (by then I

mean ‘back then,’ implying behind implying we are both looking in the same direction, sorry



I won’t write about the love my grandmother and I share because these gaps posed no threat to it. It

was instant and natural as everything capital could ever dream of proffering to us. This poem is for the

gaps that tear open in us as we pass through them. The stuff of string theory and quantum physics and

latin names and memorandums and re-written treaties and beaten bodies and lazy investigations and

non-existent investigations and bad loans and forgotten people. 


I do believe science as a history hurts us. It is haunted. I still hate that my father embarrassed me in

front of him. We both knew I couldn’t do those push-ups. It was his protest against time, that I and my body lived in it. Time did not permit our bodies to be one (body) (I can’t decide if it was more

important that we be a joint idea or a joint being, thing, that is if I should have been so clearly of him

or from him or if I should have been a copy of his dreams, and whether those dreams were his desires or his projections, or what he saw and felt when he slept if there’s a difference) for him and I to clench the knife from the same pommel. We are histories against each other. He was trying to erase when in our shared history of non-agency all one can do is write. 


How do you illustrate a ‘gap’ in time? What does it ‘look’ like? How does it ‘look’? The gap perceives

me, I thInK thEreFore i aM, what if time thought as an organism thinks, hoping only to continue

itself. What would that say about our relations? That we are always threatening to end our

permutation of time, its life in our bodies, our cells. 


Watching watchmen I felt very distant from their reenactment of the Tulsa Riots. Speaking to my

grandma I felt only closeness, proximity, a moving inward toward a shared space. It must have been history. A history without documents. The history inscribed in a doubt, in a breathlessness, in a spine,

that is never erased, never seen by an autopsy, never lost. I don’t know what it would be. 


              Shadow (shad·ow) /ˈSHadō/

  1. A dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface

    1. Example: “trees cast long shadows”

  2. used in reference to proximity, ominous oppressiveness, or sadness and gloom.

    1. Example: “the shadow of war fell across Europe” 


Grandma. Sending texts. I love you. I am thinking about you as i always have been. Stay inside. Stay

inside my love,

Jordan Jace is a writer based in Los Angeles and will begin their MFA in Poetry at Brown University in the Fall of 2020. A student of abolitionism, their work has been published with Freedom Arts Press, Cosmonauts Avenue, and the Poetry Project’s yearly publication The Recluse.

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