Non-Binary Poem: ‘On Home’ By Z Bell

when to write about home :
( not only when alone )
( not having figured it all out )
( with and without )

as land
how land is sacred because
it absorbs our weight, and
creates gems to
reflect and filter light

the pressure
between mud and skin
is so bold that
it squeezes earthglow
from the torrid core

and climbing up
through the dirt and clay,
my feet against the heat,
pulling planet up
into my spirit

this way the land
lets me know
i am held and needed:
the gentle pleading to

pray downward, too
honor the earth, and
all your energy
will be returned to you

as body
if you find a home
in your body

leave to me all the pieces
that couldn’t fit

they will not go to waste :
my temple will be beautiful, too

and when i build it
i will glow all within

the bright current of my pulsing heart
will open my rooms and valves with light

and drawn in
i will come home to myself

as truth
coming home to grandma
in her chair, and
the news is loud on tv

mom is asleep if
it’s a dialysis day,
so don’t wake her up
unless it’s important,
and ( even ) then …

my stress nap, and soon
dinner fumes
like oxtail at the
beginning of the month
and pasta at the end,
when money is low

because gram loves her
island food, and mom
learned red sauce from
an old italian woman

i tell about my
private school day
and feel guilty
with no words
for the distance,
but mom + gram meant it
when they listened

home is a memory place,
so now the feeling lives
in prayers and in dreams

the longing and pointed aching
threatening my bounded seams
and flooding all within me

i can’t remember
the last time
i felt at home

no really

it’s been a little
over a year
since mom died

can you tell
i don’t know
where to be
anymore – ?

as future
because i am inhabited by hurt

i have decided to create a new world

Artist Statement
BELOVED HOME is a subject I spend a lot of time with in my brain and in my heart. The page is a place where healing happens – it’s so important to prioritize the process.

I was 23 when my Mother died. My Grandmother died 3 years later in 2019. In the past 5 years since my first parent’s passing, not a day has gone by that I haven’t intentionally fought to find a sense of belonging. Some people go their whole lives without ever having to consider if they are where they’re supposed to be or if they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, etc. My parents’ passing wasn’t, by any means, the first time I’ve carried these heavy questions.

My entire life as a Black, non-binary trans man, who is currently experiencing homelessness, who stole toilet paper from his private school to take back to a poor home, whose Mother skipped dialysis to attend his college graduation, who founded a nonprofit only to be kicked and deleted from the project because he was “too sad” and “too radical”… for all of the reasons I’ve seen glimpses of greatness & love that have been taken, lost or faded too fast, too soon… For all these reasons and pages more: my poetry asks : Where do I belong? Where is home? “On Home” explores themes of trauma, land, and body as elements of belonging.

Artist Bio
Z Bell (gender pronouns : they/them & he/him) is Bright and Lovely and does not give all the credit to the sun. Their writing invites a collective witnessing of experiences that hurt so much, they demand growth in spirit and in heart. The promise of rhythm and lyric in Z’s poetry gives readers permission to believe in alchemy, too. Their music tells a story about a Black, transMasculine, disabled, queer femmeBoi who sometimes gives himself space to admit his own magic. Z has written, designed and self-published four zine-length collections of poetry : Drop The Beat – We Gettin Free, HeartRot, CloudLight and Pull. They perform hip-hop and acoustic guitar sets in which they rap about being a Sad Boi and sing about having a pendulum-heart. Being in the dead-parents-club gives Z charge for celebrating their deep resilient power and for curating an intentional love legacy. Complex trauma, unapologetic play, divine pleasure and dimensional healing are all ingredients in Z’s work that look like prayer and wisdom on the page and a firecracker of vulnerable self-determination on the stage.

This hip-hop femmeBoi enjoys eating ginger, playing in lush grass and dancing at the cookout. They currently live in The Bronx.

Z has studied as a poet at the Kettle Pond writing conference. They have performed for a crowd of 400 people in opening up for charting hip-hop artist Princess Nokia, and have graced the stage at multiple local venues including but not limited to The StateHouseLiterary Happy HourRnB Wednesdays at Terminal 110 and CafeNine

Z’s most potent career background is rooted in radical political education, curriculum-design and facilitation for folx who love and struggle in the marginal intersections of race, gender, sexuality and class. They have worked with several local and national grassroots organizations including but not limited to Common Ground High School, Urban Farm and Environmental Education Center (CT), Black Youth Project 100 (national), Audre Lorde Project (NY), CT-CORE (CT), CEIO (CT), The National LGBTQ Task Force (national) and Brooklyn Movement Center (NY), etc. Learn more: and follow Z on IG: @queerchaosbear

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