Basement Poetry Presents: “What have you lost?” by Kevelis Matthews-Alvarado

“What have you lost?” Performance:

“What have you lost?” Lyrics:

“What have you lost”
is not a question i ask myself
on a daily basis
because asking that question 
would force me to confront some things 
placing me within the context of a world aflame 
its quarantine anyways 
“What have you lost”
is not a question i ask myself
on a daily basis
best friend catching bullshit cases 
because of some racist 
who wanna make themselves feel powerful
use their social capital 
to stomp on souls 
“What have you lost”
for one
the ability to grieve 
the fact my college graduation as a afro latinx
got demoted 
to a footnote 
so unimportant in the grand scheme
of things 
this country is on fire 
greed is driving us into extinction 
we should all know that margins are
supposed to be the first to go
it seems like we 
are a lost generation
supposed to do it all 
but we fresh outta college 
the job market is trash 
we need the cash
but nobody is hiring 
Steady suffocating in debt
while the rich kids get to treat
this pandemic 
like a vacation 
we are trapped in the position of subordination 
by any means 
the essential workers unspoken
the invisible backbone of this “nation” 
forced to compromise 
their safety 
so others can thrive 
and stockpile daily essentials 
What have you lost
when social media feeds 
are suddenly flooded with 
black screens 
and everybody around me eager to pity me
like its trick or treat on halloween
and we are stuck in the convict costumes white supremacy placed us in 
minstrelsy and performance the foundation of their perception 
covid got the world still in some ways
and the world still thinks black life so dismissible 
This is not the first time nor the last time
Black death is so visible 
visually accessible 
On trees 
and telescreens
george Floyd’s death had 
everyone wanting to jump on the bandwagon 
of black lives mattering
only for clout tho
Just to ensure that you know
they’re not like the other white people 
their parents may have made a lot of money 
but can’t you still
see they are not racist? 
lets face it 
the truth of the matter is 
none of this shit is brand new 
activism never been marketable 
“You should learn how 
to put that shit on your resume,
Don’t you say?”
but i lost the fucks i gave 
and patience i had for neutrality
i just pray 
and meditate 
to stay conscious 
Cause this fake social support is taunting 
very daunting 
don’t worry i lost my trust in amerikkka a long time ago 
took note that this falsified dream 
was never meant for me 
this aint new 
you just aint knew 
and this time and space
just exposed the face 
of white supremacy 
in such a way  
we living a cultural trauma
what have i lost? 
my breathe
we trying to say black lives matter 
but its hard to catch our breathe 
shallow lungs 
steady drowning in 
white tears that dehydrate   
while i contemplate 
How to turn a couple Ls in Ws
no troubleshoot 
only clear views 
on how embody the light of the constellations
north star high in the sky 
as we struggle for a special kind of liberation

About Kevelis Matthews-Alvarado:

I’m a black first generation college graduate, daughter of a Venezuelan immigrant and decedent of enslaved Africans. Currently, I am pursuing my Masters degree in English at Lehigh University. I see my scholarship as intrinsically connected to my work as a poet, artist, creator, and activist. All the work regardless of form or medium is ultimately tied to the interrogation of systems of power and the radical imagination of possible liberation. I wrote “What have I lost” as a response to prompt in my modernism class… and I think it embodies my current state of mind as a poet, scholar, and person. This poem captures a moment for me so thank you for listening to this story…

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