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Jordan Bailey

Jordan Bailey
Jay Ward
Jasmine Swanagan
Angelo Geter
Frederick Eberhardt

Below the Mason Dixon

Below the Mason Dixon
where a cloud of hectic history always seems to hang overhead
The South

Where the air is laced in loops of Southern Baptist hymnals, Spewing scriptures be second nature, Yet we still be prey more than we be prayed for
Sunday sermon coated in moonshine
Too strong to digest.
Yet we try anyway
Because we are taught
To inhale our history
even though it make inferno of our insides

My South be candy paint and Impalas
808s on blast
Like God try’n a talk through the speakers
A chopped and screwed testimony
A three six mafia praise dance
A “back that ass up” anthem

Down here our pollen be loud
Like my grandmother’s holler from front porch
We be slow rolled weed
Rolling on Ds, bumping bun-b and pimp-c
Bojangles over KFC

In the South we know hate like we know Bojangles Not the chicken. I mean tap dancing around topics
Come from a lineage of finger waves
and gold teething
We wear code switch like retros That assimilation never go outta style

I be country
Dirt road
Shoeless at all the wrong times
Which is always the best times
The South

Where our tongues get white washed
Keep yo’ Southern drawl locked jawed and sealed.
Leave the red clay on our tongues at the door
Enjoys her crow fried hard while burping up the blood of Black bodies like bourbon

The South be both birthplace and grave
Womb and tomb, Bible belt and noose,
Paradise and crime scene
So I be South

I be tire swings on hanging trees Black bodies rotting like dreams deferred
I be a drought A pipedream drowning in the Catawba River I be a polluted beauty they ain’t clean up enough to love yet

And when they ask me why I still love her
I tell them once a year
Around the month of May
The sun hugs us just right
Reminds us no matter how cold she treats us
We still warm enough for summertime
And I think this is how she apologizes
Tells us she remembers us
Reminds us this black don’t burn on asphalt
And I forgive her everytime

So don’t ever fix your mouth
To say anything about my South
‘Cuz all the blood in the walls
Are still in my house,
I was raised here

The South be the family member
You love but don’t always like
That means I’m the only one allowed to curse it
And praise it
And denounce it
And fight for it

And I will fight for it
And be proud of it
Even when I don’t want to