In front of a classroom,
a sea of all faces,
and these hands tied,
expected to lead a life.
Can't face myself, but
there is a face there—
seasick, charcoal-colored.
I writhe in pain,
as they writhe,
splintered flesh
and soaked hull.
“I can’t breathe,”
some say,
others, hands raised.
Those shadows on
wooden bunk beds,
like hooded children.
A cry and a moan.
And then silence.
Creaks on the quarterdeck,
then, raspy,
revolutionary, came,
“Aye, the Americas.”


JAMAL MICHEL currently lives and teaches in Durham, North Carolina. He received his BA in English Literature from Florida International University and his Master's in English education from Duke University. His poetry and prose focus primarily on race and identity, surrealism, and spirituality. One of his main focuses revolves around using writing and the arts as a form of political activism, and also speaking on being Black in twenty-first century America. He is a columnist for The Chronicle at Duke, and he runs an Instagram page for poetry and a blog titled Warranted dedicated to more critical pieces and have intentions of pursuing doctoral studies in sociology.