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Bee C.W. (stage name The Bee, @thebee.theartist) is a young artist born and raised in Harlem. A poet, performer, and tattoo designer, they create pieces exploring identity and celebrating the intersections of the queer, mixed-race, and disabled communities, among others. They are a four-for-four-time champion and now host of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe slam competitions, fifth ranked at the 2023 Womxn Poet of the World Poetry Slam, a member of the 2023 Urban Word NYC Slam Team, a featured spoken word artist and poetry teacher throughout New York City and with Button Poetry, and a student of Columbia University.

Family Trees

Family tree –

this branch, burning incense, that branch, יום הזיכרון לשואה.

This branch, body clenched against 할머니의 memories,

a backyard bomb shaking

our veins, muscle, knuckles, and hands.

Boughs hand heavy with father’s forgetfulness.

A vineyard with two kinds of seed;

let the whole yield be forfeited.

A garden where too much of a good thing rots the soul.

America, where I have been ripened to the core

by war and Coca-Cola and white men.

God nibbles, then chews away

at the fuzz curling gently from my under-toned shoulders.

Learning the most painful parts of living

through stories about boys, born from peach pits,

through the glance of radically different eyes

grasping at each other in a New York malt shop.

There grows the family trees,

more roots than the woods in deep Maine,

its lumber making grand-poppy’s home.

More than the oak, pine, redwood, teak, and yew

in all the tall cathedrals, synagogues, 불교 사원.

I am born in a forest of skin tones and language,

of land and home foreign and heavy with fruit.

A body of all my peoples, ever-refusing to die.

Starving artist bullshit

My rent started penning my poems.

My empty fridge echoes the empty page.

But I’m trying my best to craft hunger into sentences,

legal fees and student loans into wallet-written poems

please just pay me.

Every time I write now

if I ever do get paid

it feels like blood money but I’d bleed out if it meant

I’d get to draft again. Shit, I’d use it to ink my own pen.

Will I always be a better poet on an empty stomach?

Insecurity is where my lines break —

but necessity is the mother of invention

and the world loved my mommy issues.

Take the pieces of me from the page,

the arms with burn scars the twisted intestines

hanging butterflies and broken heart dreams

and bits of dead skin like thoughts

I can never quite get out, damned spot.

It’s a penny for my thoughts and a check for my trauma

and all I wanna do is help my mama retire.

But I can’t hand the landlord a haiku.

Poetry, you bastard.

Rent is due.

my students apologize for broken english

wait for both eyes to meet mine

and ask them never to apologize

i hate that in english 101

mouths get tied into shapes

that don’t always fit

more than one tongue

wish to say

throw the rules away

that a line break

is literally broken english so

all poems are just

shattered speech anyway

poets run-on splice a sentence how it’s meant to be spoken

so i mean to me every rule in english was made to be broken

If the Devil Met the Girl I Loved When I Was Sixteen

If the devil met the girl I loved when I was sixteen

I don’t think he could stand to be satanic anymore.

She is too sweet for evil creatures, she

saw goodness in me even at my most monstrous, I

think of her every time misty rain hazes sunshine

when old ladies cry out the devil beats his wife

because no one could look in her eyes and ever think of harm; she

disarms cruelty with embrace, she

unfurls anger with her curls, if only

the devil could meet this girl I loved when I was sixteen.

There would be still-water peace

and no hungry mouths to feed — she’d

melt the heart of a soulless hell,

make candlelight of damnation.

Satan caught a glimpse

and fell to earth just to search for her —

and losing her bruises and buries you underground

so who can blame him

but if the devil really met the girl I loved when I was sixteen

he’d return to heaven again to make sure she’d live forever. She,

who made original sin lovely again she,

who found beauty in snake eyes and I,

who still doesn’t know why

she loved me, how she

lifted Lucifer

back up

into a heavenly king.

I Lit a Cigarette in a Storm

Loving you

is smoking in the rain:

is trying to pull fire

from watered-down feelings;

is lost,

in the haze and mirrors;

is mud puddles, reflecting

doubt and self-sabotage.

I let you

fill my lungs,

stop my heart,

but still you resist,

impatiently bored.

Limp, in my pleading

hands like a prayer

to a god

you have already

lost faith in,

I will finish

what I have started.

Call it love.

Call it addiction.

Call it dying.

It grows


within me.


to keep you alight

has burnt me

up and down

my arm,

left tobacco

wet, on my tongue.

Loving you

is so painful,

I just think

I need a smoke break.


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