Letters to Langston

Rico Frederick



Art by Rico Frederick



Meh Dear Frnd,

Me + our frnd Aziza deep in ah conversation bout opn-ended fascinations: ah flock of dead blk birds, birth in cave man times, random teeth growg frm de pavement, why men thk dey own ere bdy whn de vry definition means conjure non. De unapologetic noun of realizg ah still 41 + knw no one undr 61 w ah house on land dey own. No one drvs me up to anxieties country house cme soothe meh like ah lake shore comfort meh sadness’es. De drway to meh apartment alwys smells of three-day-ol morng breath, ah cakey sewage scent.

Partner, wht ah askg is, how u deal w de constant isolation of mis-undr-estimation of ah man who knws he is more thn de plate ppl tell him to eat frm? U evr had da feelg, as if ya brain is constipated but yah mouth talkg all dis shit. It’s six a.m. + meh pen demands more ah me thn de pg contains. Ah in no mood to doddle in anguish, rent bn payd + Brklyn is quiet as ah sleepg pill. Ah cld feel de vibration of meh phone fizzg/sizzlg de air in meh bedroom, singg tht blastd song: I’m ur only pet, cme cme, feed meh ya eyes, mke meh lick ya face. It’s jus de alarm, so afrd –it scared itslf. Is it fair to say ah is ah citizen now, now tht ah completely confused

In de slow/gloom, meh frnds + lovers evite demselves into de good basilica of meh contentions. Each lonely hour gets eaten like ah grape or ah grudge linkd to ah vine ah insecurities: Did ah move to forgn to feel so dmn forgn? As if ere room in meh head is ah decent space to finally play. An ah idea is nothg but ah toy for ya mind to play w + ah thk ah u as ah soultwn shaman, zoot-suit to shouldr de stifled voice of frwd whn ah doe concrete trust, as love–


To Meh Frnd Langie,

Hands of white gloves laid meh out flat, flat as ah penny on ah stretcher, ah roll past pass parts of ah luxurious glass pond fill w all de ol fish ah did have as ah chil, guppies, gouramis, blk angels + purple/blue/fire red Japanese fighters + dey big like prehistoric dinosaurs in ah museum. Boi is ah regal place, palace type thg w manicured shrub-ry + all. Meh stretcher cme to ah graceful stop in meh good frnd Mike’s office. Ah stop jus below he feet as he is sittg dwn at he fancy blk desk. Ah say: doe move? he say: not erethg obey ur wishes


Rico Frederick is an award-winning performance poet, and graphic designer. He is the author of the book Broken Calypsonian (Penmanship Books, 2014), 2016 Poets House Emerging Fellow, Cave Canem Fellow, a MFA candidate at the Pratt Institute and the first poet to represent all four New York City poetry venues (Nuyorican, Urbana, LouderArts, and Intangible) at the National Poetry Slam (2010 and 2012 Grand Slam Champion).  His poems, artistic work, and films have been featured in the New York Times, Muzzle, No Dear Magazine, The Big Apple Film Festival, and elsewhere. Rico is a Trinidadian transplant, lives in New York, loves gummy bears, and scribbles poems on the back of maps in the hope they will take him someplace new.