“in broad dayliGht black victims look gagged”

Roya Marsh

dayliGht is a dazzling collection of poems from a necessary new voice, at once a clarion call for stories of Black women and a rebuke of broken notions of sexuality and race.

In her stunning debut, written in protest to an absence of representation, Marsh recalls her early life and the attendant torments of a butch Black woman coming of age in America. In lush, powerful, and vulnerable verses, dayliGht unpacks traumas to unearth truths, revealing a deep well of resilience, a cutting sense of irony, and an astonishing fresh talent.


in broad dayliGht black
victims looked gagged
q. What are the consequences of silence?

silence is a lynching
of things the world already knows about you
but still
needs to choke from your throat

silence is a cloak
draped over a body
of lies
has the world thinking you are safe//whole
something worth listening to
because everything is
the truth
once you believe it

silence is not just deadly
but the weapon itself
left at the scene of the crime
used to extinguish
of black mental health issues
because black people don’t have

time for exhaustion//depression
we will do our work//massa’s work//
& still have time
to be slaves to our own

silence is blinding
the reason i look for children
the way no one looked for me
is deafening
how no one heard my cries for help
or cries to sleep
how we cannot break
my depression

The consequences of silence will leave me lying in traffic
on 42nd Street
Believing the only imprint i’ll have on the world is what’s
left after the cars stampede over my body

is a drug
i was so strung out
no one knew i wished to die
until I had a stomach full of pills
& when i woke up
still trapped on this bridge
between heaven & hell
silence rendered me speechless
i had no song to sing
silence is no apology
no thank you
my mother,
didn’t know
how to
welcome me to the
world a second time

pessimism is trying to kill myself
optimism is living afterward

i have silence beaten into my body
i exist in this constant state of rage
when my hands don’t know
when my mouth can handle it

and so sometimes my tongue
swings before my fist do
& vice versa
& sometimes they wild out
at the same ga’damn time
no one wants to be a victim out of love
they do it out of threat
of whip

silence does not make a victim out of me
predators do
silence means i never tell my mother
i was molested
because he is family
because he is bigger than me
because i should have known better

silence means i don’t tell my friends i was abused
because she was a woman
because she wasn’t bigger than me
because i should have known better

i say nothing
because defending myself is
seen as an attack to my attacker
i say nothing because doing nothing is
seen as an attack on myself
i use silence for safety

they think me strong
think I can take it
because I’ve been witness
to my own murder
& still ain’t said shit

i am teaching myself
how to peel back the layers of silence
when the only undressing
i’ve known has been
in front of those who never deserved
to see

silence is not always a choice
it can be
a protest
the thin line
between danger
& safety

saying nothing
doesn’t mean everything’s all right
saying nothing can mean everything
is all wrong
but it doesn’t make it any less real
saying nothing means look at me
& hard

my whole body
is a language—
& i’m begging you

learn it

Roya Marsh, a native of the Bronx, New York, is a nationally recognized poet, performer, educator, and activist. She is the Poet in Residence at Urban Word NYC, and she works feverishly toward LGBTQIA justice and dismantling white supremacy. Marsh’s work has been featured on NBC, BET, Button Poetry, Write About Now Poetry, Def Jam’s All Def Digital, and Lexus Verses and Flow, and in Poetry magazine, Flypaper Magazine, Frontier Poetry, The Village Voice, Nylon, HuffPost, and The BreakBeat Poets Volume 2: Black Girl Magic (2018).