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 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
into a heavenly king.
I Lit a Cigarette in a Storm
is smoking in the rain:
is trying to pull fire
from watered-down feelings;
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,
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.
to keep you alight
has burnt me
up and down
wet, on my tongue.
is so painful,
I just think
I need a smoke break.