When I was 12
my dad told the psychiatrist I suffer
night terrors because I’m evading generations of trauma
the heritage of Middle Passage was dismissed by science
the psychiatrist dismissed dad’s evidence
nodding mmhmmm I was prescribed
a bottle of Paxil
and I swallowed my Paxil
daily yet I suffered
nightly the psychiatrist prescribed
more doses to stop trauma
from animating my body while I slept he stressed evidence
recorded in elite journals of medicine and science
and years later, ancestral trauma was recreated in a science
lab I flushed my Paxil
after reading the evidence:
Men in white coats electrocuted mice until the animals suffered
convulsions at the scent of cherry blossoms this scent traumatized
offspring who never experienced electric current Men in white coats prescribe
trauma to bury trauma they’ll excavate later my psychiatrist prescribed
Paxil because he didn’t know why a 12-year-old science
geek escaped her bed and screamed bloody murder in her sleep The trauma
must stem from chemical imbalance he said Paxil
stimulates neurotransmitters but he didn’t know my suffering
is a transmission from the belly of Desire crossing the Atlantic There’s evidence
my ancestral bodies survived and did not survive this ship evidence
human cargo was prescribed
bondage and suffering
because states need building scientists
endorsed these prescriptions with eugenic theories my Paxil
is evidence of trauma
inflicted by these white coats who are paid per trauma
They gather evidence
for cures by handing out placebos The Paxil
is a placebo I screamed my psychiatrist prescribed
higher doses and I became his science
experiment White coats dissected my suffering
in labs resembling bedrooms they prescribed
more Klonopin, more scans, more mmhmmm, more science
still screaming: I suffer
* * *
Candace Williams is a Brooklyn Poets Fellow and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sixth Finch, Bennington Review, Lambda Literary Review, Copper Nickel, and Redivider, among other places. She earned her MA in Elementary Education from Stanford University and has received scholarships from Cave Canem. You can find her walking her pit bull down Nostrand Ave, watching too many episodes of Murder, She Wrote before bed, and subtweeting the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (@teacherc).
Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Wendy Xu for consideration at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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