dysaesthesia aethiopica
By Joshua Bennett


1. A mental disorder endemic to enslaved blacks in the mid-nineteenth century U.S. This condition was characterized by exceptional laziness, an insensibility to pain when being whipped, and a propensity for destroying equipment.

2. Mechanophobia by another name; the fear of becoming that which the world has already claimed for your flesh.

3. The moment between microagression and viral video. A white co-worker’s palm gliding through fresh cornrows split-second sung into a chair flying across the office.

4. How, as a child, Kyle slammed you against the classroom wall so many times you started to think of your body and its shadow as interchangeable modes of being. You too are a thin, black incantation.

5. Exhaustion as armor.

6. Reflection’s reckoning. Taking a hammer to that filthy mirror.

Joshua Bennett is a third-year doctoral candidate in the English Department at Princeton University, Callaloo fellow, budding essayist, and, as of this summer, teacher of 8th grade Composition. He is inspired by the work of Lucille Clifton, Ed Roberson, Thylias Moss, Gerald Barrax and countless others. His poetry has either been published or is forthcoming in Drunken Boat, Muzzle, Poetry Northeast, Disability Studies Quarterly and Clarion.