American Sugar By Elijah Noble El

American Sugar

The flag burns and my people march the streets.
We won’t go gentle into the good night.
The flag burns because it does not represent love,
because it does not stand for unity.
Stitch by stitch, hate flows through it like a toxin.
There’s smoke here. Not in the distance but in the home.
Something was reduced to ashes tonight.
America’s mouth fills up with blood and we swallow it down.

We watch the votes come in.
My mother tells me she’s given up hope.
A woman, my hero, feels defeated, stares at her cape
and understands the fight is not yet won, but not yet over.
She was so proud to finally be able to vote for a powerful,
strong woman. Now we suffer because people are
inherently fucking disgusting.
I’m scared for my mother, for all women, for all POC,
for the LGBTQ+ community,
the disabled, the poor.
The underdog in every sense of the word.

A friend of mine was called a “black bitch” today in Michigan.
Someone I know was spit on and called a nigger in New York last week.
My best friend, someone I deeply admire, is told every day
that she deserved her sexual assault.
Yet they tell us not to march the streets.
And they tell us not to grieve the state of the nation.
They try to feed us silence and tell us it’s sugar.
They hang us and murder us and rape us in 2016.
But still we fight,
and we promise to destroy whatever seeks to destroy us.

How do I make sure my baby cousin grows up proud of who she is,
a black woman in this America?
She is powerful and she will move mountains. She is strong
and I will make sure love nurtures her.

I am a black man in America. They murder men like me every day.
They take us to the tree and call us monkeys.
They take us to the cell and call us thugs.
They take us to the streets where we lay for hours.
What kind of world is it where I fear for my mother
and my mother fears for me?

My father and his father before him
were Muslim. Women I will always love are Muslim.
One of my best friends is a sexual assault survivor, another a lesbian.
What does this flag represent for us? What does this land offer us now?
I refuse to die because of a fucking reality star.
I refuse to die under Trump’s America.

“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
-Dylan Thomas

American Sugar was previously published in Persephone’s Daughters.

Elijah Noble El


Elijah Noble El is a 21 year old actor and writer from Livonia, Michigan. The author of The Age of Recovery (2015), a debut full length poetry book. He is the co-founder of Girls Don’t Cry, the film division of the literary magazine Persephone’s Daughters, a magazine aimed at empowering women who have experienced various forms of abuse and degradation. In 2013 his short story, “Oblivion,” received the Award of Excellence in Literature from the Michigan PTSA Reflections. He co-wrote the play Off with Her Head (2013) which won the 2014 Lansing State Journal Thespie Awards “Special Award.” He also wrote the short film, Dog-Faced Honey (2016), which was nominated for Best Writing from the Top Indie Film Awards. His work has been featured in Straylight Magazine, Hooligan Magazine, Persephone’s Daughters, Exist Magazine, Soul Anatomy, The Odyssey, Eastern Michigan University’s Inkstains Anthology, and in Stevenson Spectrum.

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