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Related to Rhythm, Three Poems by Natachi Mez

Power Play

Act I – Power:

what power is in my hands
my hands be power, be power,
my power is in what hands, my what
is power in whose hands. my power,
what? yes is in my power! yes! 
no is in my power! no! power! what!
yes! power! my power! is! is! is!
is is my power. is my hands! my hands raise!
what hands do! punch! and pray! 
fighting for this joy! damn, 
blood on my cheek,
like a kiss! wounded
where I am loved! loved
where I am wounded! 

wounded where I am loved
loved where I am wounded

wounded where I am loved
loved where I am wounded

power! power! power! power!


Act II – Loved


Act III – Where


Act IV – I


Act V – Am

A Drum, in 3 Sounds

I. Bass

drop hand on center of the drumhead
fingers, palm, heel of hand
the drum will talk back
and forth
centuries before and beyond you
wooden time travel
body carved from tree body
hollow and still full
descendant of breath givers
the drum gives and takes breath
the drum is language
is living ancestor,
it talks back and forth

drop palm on center of heart
hold it there
your beat will talk back
and forth
centuries before and beyond you
that which runs through us
has run before

(run! run! run!)

that which runs through us
has (run! run! run!) before

(run! run! run!)

breathing heavy,
living ancestor
talk back and forth

time travels through us

hand on drum
hand on heart

I am still learning the language
that runs through us
a blood river cuts through me
I am lost to myself


II. Tone

extract any space between fingers
drop fingers toward the edge of the drumhead
the drum will TALK back 
and soar 
from its skin, rushing 
to reunite with its kin

higher pitch,
            you can make a drum           scream,
can make           a dancer cry,     beautiful 
movement, a drum can make you             scream, 
a dancer can make           you cry, beautiful 
          movement, a dancer can make a drum
dance,           can make           you dance
          you drum
every being a shaper, a shifter
every being shaped,           shifting

back and forth, shifting
back and forth

time travels through me
like a ship in the sky

time travel threw me
into the hands of God

I know how it feels to have wings
the edge of the drum has wings
pushed us to the edge
we are no one’s margins
flew to the center of ourselves
marchin, marchin is a form of rhythm

many have tried to ban
the drum
the tongue
the sway of hips
as if Black language is gun
but the spirit is armed, has arms
moves from body to body 
embodied, embodied
the spirit can’t die
learned to drum without drums
learned to fight while dancing
sweetened tears with sugar cubes of laughter
wounded where we are loved
loved where we are wounded

there are spirits that can’t be stomped out!
we stomp! children of boom!
I couldn’t be unrelated to rhythm if I tried


III. Slap

gently, insert space between your fingers
drop them toward the edge of the drumhead and
let your hand bounce back up

quick, light
quick, light

Flight, reverberating 
from drum skin

my pupils remember the sun
and my warmth returns
skin salted, ocean slick

couldn’t be alone 
if I tried,
Atlantic opened its mouth wide
I dive in

baptism or funeral
baptism or funeral
baptism and funeral 
baptism and funeral 
baptism and funeral

God gave me gills for all my lives, 
before and beyond me,
the dead are still shaping us
I am swimming with those
who have dreamt with the fishes

Describing Warmth

warmth as movement
every fragment of me dancing
my spirit is sweating from your love
salt crystals on my spirit
like an ocean passed through here
and left me undrowning
left me without leaving me
to speak in tongues is to speak in saliva
digesting this dance
I break down. I break beat. I beat 
brake. I slow down. Every fragment of I
is tethered to ancestors, dead & alive
all here


Poet’s Note: “Describing Warmth” is written in loving memory of Alicia Lawrence, who shined like glitter, and often told her loved ones, “you were on my spirit today.”

I am so grateful to the Alicia Lawrence Legacy Initiative and Tassiana for creating space to reflect and honor Alicia Lawrence’s Legacy through creativity and community, and it is through a space they facilitated where this poem was first born.



Natachi Mez (she/her) is an Igbo, Nigerian-American writer, performer, and emcee from the Sacramento area in California. Natachi is a two time finalist at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI), and has featured at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Oberlin College, as well as at venues in Accra, Copenhagen, and Istanbul. Natachi facilitates dynamic experiences that deepen audience engagement and celebrate community voice. Natachi has worked with youth communities and people who are incarcerated to engage writing and rapping as tools of empowerment. She has facilitated writing and performance workshops at Tufts University, Rutgers University, Rikers Island, and more. Natachi graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Computer Science, and works as Business Program Manager, focusing on community building, communications, intercultural awareness, and design. You can find Natachi’s words featured or forthcoming in Interstellar Flight Magazine, Unplug Mag, Gumbo Magazine, Breadcrumbs Magazine, Write About Now, or on instagram