Poem-a-Day - "Good Grief" by KB Brookins

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Poem-a-Day is reader-supported. Make a special gift this National Poetry Month to share poems year-round and help us reach our $100,000 fundraising goal.
April 23, 2022 

Good Grief

KB Brookins
after the 2021 Texas Winter Storm

I’ll admit that I’ve never thought about frostbite.

Trauma of the blood, a thing to be avoided when heat goes out for an entire state.

I don’t know where to place this grief, this sweltering state freezing, politicians breezing over to a country that doesn’t have tissue choked out by its winter yet.

The sky can only do what it does.

The American government can only do what systems driven by green paper, violence & ache can do.

The trees bloom over dead bodies, missing.

The sound of hands rubbing, engines purring, hopes that gas lights or chafing or the rapture won’t come first may quiver in my blood forever.

I am Black but maybe I am doomed.

Memory flashes like a computer screen; I see the zoom link expand. Colleagues process whatever failure number of a thousand this was this year and I can only remember white.

Six inches deep, sunken into my boots all over.

The timeline of friends stranded, impending doom of electricity shutting off, water pressure slipping into nothing every hour, pipes bursting on top of all that white.

I haven’t recovered from seeing things that too-closely resemble holes in a graveyard.  

I haven’t forgotten the project is due in 2 weeks.

My therapist says take it easy as if capitalism is listening. As if the body will ever forget what it is given.

I am Black which is history, personified.

I used to listen to Pilot Jones fondly. With all this frostbite on my fingers, I’m not sure if I can type.

I cannot finish another sentence on unity.

What is unified about ERCOT letting us freeze? Knowing how to fix the problem & not doing it; how does that form a Kumbaya circle?

If I made art about every pain I’ve felt unjustly, I would be swimming in accolades for great American books.

I would take back every word I’ve written if it ended this.

America is the worst group project.

I’m writing a great American poem about suffering.

How much is going without food that isn’t canned for a week worth?

The absence of snow feels like betrayal. My memory mixes with American delusion. 

I can’t believe half the things that I’ve been through.

Ice cold, baby, I told you; I’m ice cold.

Who said it first, Frank Ocean or Christopher Columbus?

I’ve never been taught how to adequately mourn the nights spent bitching about a brisk wind; the night we almost got stranded trying to get to J before the cold swallowed them whole.

I want to give everything I’ve been handed a good cry. Red skin & chapped lips deserve it.  

Good grief, what has Texas done to me.

An article features a person walking past tents near I-35. 

I can’t cry about the body but I feel it.

A highway splits a nation from its promise to be one.

Everything feels blurry and the palm trees have died.

Everything transported here withers away eventually.

6 months later and I haven’t been able to shovel out my sadness.

A news report said that it’s safe to go back to work. & I listen, because what else can you do in 6 inches of white.

The snow melted and I still feel frostbitten.

There are no heroes in a freeze-frame changing nothing.

I pose begrudgingly. Say cheese & then write this.

I’m not a survivor; just still breathing.

I remember grief, love’s grand finale.

What else do we have if not the memory of life before this?

I cannot tell you how many lives I’ve lost to mourning, but I can tell you that the sky does what it does.

Let’s go for a walk & touch the trees that survived like us.

Let’s write a future more joyful & less inevitable in segments of leaves.

Anything we dream will be better than this.

Copyright © 2022 by KB Brookins. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 23, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

Subscribe to the Poem-a-Day Podcast 

  

About the Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize

KB Brookins’s “Good Grief” is the first-place winner of the 2022 Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize. Established in 2019 with generous support from Treehouse Investments, the prize is given to honor exceptional poems that help make real for readers the gravity of the vulnerable state of our environment at present. Beginning with the Saturday after Earth Day, Poem-a-Day will feature this year’s three winners on consecutive weekends.

“Though grounded in a specific disaster, the 2021 Texas ice storms, ‘Good Grief’ nonetheless seems to speak for all of us. The voice is unique and yet familiar. ‘America is the worst group project’ and ‘Anything we dream will be better than this’ cry out against the structural lack of care that leads to climate disaster, also known as the American Dream, and offer the beginning of a new idea of kinship: ‘Let’s go for a walk & touch the trees that survived like us.’ In the end, these magnetic words remind us that the root networks trees create underground are a better model of survival than a broken, predatory power-grid. May we reach for each other in life-sustaining ways, like the trees.”
Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali & Alexis Pauline Gumbs

“After Winter Storm Uri I was rattled—mentally and physically—for months. Every single routine and regulation technique felt impossible; yet I was expected to move on as if I wasn’t stripped to survival mode for seven days. Once I found the time to actually fondle through my thoughts, and once I started to heal through the Winter Storm Project, this came spilling out.”
KB Brookins

KB Brookins is a Black, queer, and trans poet and the author of Freedom House, forthcoming in 2023 from Deep Vellum Publishing. The recipient of fellowships from the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, Equality Texas, The Watering Hole, and PEN America, they live in Austin, on Jumanos, Tonkawa, Lipan Apache, Coahuiltecan, Sana, and Comanche land.
“I Dont Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What Weve Done to the Earth” by Fatimah Asghar
read more


“the earth is a living thing” by Lucille Clifton
read more

Thanks to Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow Books, 2021), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about Nye’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year.
Copyright © 2022 The Academy of American Poets, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
The Academy of American Poets
75 Maiden Lane
St #901
New York, NY 10038

Add us to your address book


View this email in your browser

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Older messages

"The City" by Nathalie Handal

Friday, April 22, 2022

You tell me: I'm going to another country, Facebook Twitter Instagram Poem-a-Day is reader-supported. Make a special gift this National Poetry Month to share poems year-round and help us reach our

Claire Danes joins the line-up for Poetry & the Creative Mind, April 28, 2022

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Don't miss next week's free, virtual reading celebrating National Poetry Month and featuring luminaries from across the arts and culture View this email in your browser RSVP Copyright © 2022

"Time," by Zeina Hashem Beck

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Be kind to her. She's eleven & already Facebook Twitter Instagram Poem-a-Day is reader-supported. Make a special gift this National Poetry Month to share poems year-round and help us reach our

"Imperfect" by Michael Simms

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

My native tongue doesn't allow / imperfect tense, Facebook Twitter Instagram Poem-a-Day is reader-supported. Make a special gift this National Poetry Month to share poems year-round and help us

Poems by Ameen Rihani and more

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Support Poets.org April 19, 2022 Continue celebrating Arab American Heritage Month by reading these poems by Ameen Rihani, including the essay “Salaam: From Syria to America” from Myrtle and Myrrh (

MATERNAL MEMORIES

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Repairing the Legacy, Chapter Thirteen, Part Four ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Hailey Bieber Just Nailed The Casual Summer Outfit Of Our Dreams

Saturday, July 2, 2022

We'll be living in this look all month long. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ TZR logo The Zoe Report 07.01.22 Hailey Bieber Just Nailed The Casual Summer Outfit Of Our Dreams (Celebrity) Hailey

Looking to Burn Fat? You Should Be Doing These Types of Exercises

Saturday, July 2, 2022

If you want to push yourself in a short period of time, try these styles of moves—plus 6 specific examples. View in Browser Men's Health SHOP MVP EXCLUSIVES SUBSCRIBE These Are the Types of

The $6 Drugstore Product Taraji P. Henson Uses Every Day

Friday, July 1, 2022

Plus, the “dot-liner” trend will change the way you do your makeup. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Our most popular picks in June

Friday, July 1, 2022

Plus: Our favorite upright and canister vacuums, the best ergonomic gear for your home office, and more ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

The Truth of the Matter

Friday, July 1, 2022

Chapter 11 Part 1 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

How to Set Boundaries Around Toy Guns

Friday, July 1, 2022

Plus, how to talk to kids and other parents about real and fake guns.... ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ Do everything better Friday, July 1, 2022 Big Talks How to Set Boundaries Around

Easy No-Cook Meals for When It's Too Hot Outside

Friday, July 1, 2022

Recipes for Scorching Hot Weather Get the Magazine Real Simple Daily Recipe Easy No-Cook Meals for When It's Too Hot Outside Read More A Dirty Shirley Is the 'Drink of the Summer':

Go From Dad Bod to Hot Bod in 60 Days

Friday, July 1, 2022

MH Shop logo Pack on More Muscle in Less Time! View in Browser Get the Muscle You've Always Wanted - At Any Age Let's settle this right now: you CAN build muscle after 40. Men's Health

Sign in to Paging Dr. Lesbian

Friday, July 1, 2022

. Here's a link to sign in to Paging Dr. Lesbian. This link can only be used once and expires after 24 hours. Sign in now © 2022 Kira Deshler 197 .