Trace DePass


My name is always in conversation with the Queens poet I’m named  after, Howard, my great-grandfather. NYC poets have called my name a poem. My work, particularly transforming this poem into a house song, is inspired by dancers like Les Twins. Musical influences of mine are Serpentwithfeet, Sango, Luther Vandross, Labi Siffre & Toro Y Moi. I’ve also been blessed to bounce off of a good poet & friend (who  plays piano in the live footage with Matt Raybeam), Nkosi Nkululeko,  as much as my father, the sound engineer behind Myopia’s house beat. If you would like to use the beat for non-profit use, I’m encouraging you to sing the prompt “I know” & reckon with no longer being able to see someone you love. I hope to be in conversation with you too!


Artist Notes

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Transcript for Myopia by Trace DePass


I know
The mother you used to be
But who was she

Who are you without your boys
Your first love joy

My birthstone yours
My health restores
From open soars

I know I never felt unloved
But to not be loved
It still comes up
With the ones I touch

I cry from care
& thoughts of us
I don’t mean to stare
When my eyes focus

I can barely see
Numbers 1, 2, 3,
Counts my blessings (Like an NPC, MPC)

So, pardon me
I’m so sorry
to name a pain
That’s neglect (& decay & decades in me)

I know
The mother you used to be
But who was she

Myopia – Ode to Life

Transcript for Myopia - Ode to Life by Trace DePass

Ode to Life (Pt. 2 of Myopia)

Although my father produced music
I wouldn’t know if the song’s mistake why I cringe the thing away
or if its the wish to be yanked free

that gives hand to each [*beatbox*] snare that ain’t ’pposed to be there
In the rift

i only know /the lyrics to /the refrain of day,
this sternum’s soprano,
its longing to run flat
the line we cannot write.

our wrists remind us that
the clock does its rounds
no matter which poet you be, Pac/Anglou/Steez/Phife/Tonya
but, hand me them poets as songs in the bpm of us

God of watch, take, all,
God of unclear wants, & no healing,
i’ll hand you my neck.
you makeshift a rift,
& pluck, knit, unstitch.
redo/adieu me right between
& another.
just let us laugh at music,
while we can still laugh with music,
cry at its stops, skips, & plays &
cringe & yanks away & this.
But, again…
can we run
can we run
can we run that [*beatbox*]
back again?

Myopia – with Matt Raybeam verse

Transcript for Myopia - Matt Raybeam verse by Trace DePass

Matt Raybeam verse

will you take me home
i know im grown
i got no friends

no i don’t like them
i met another guy
im scared of him

i met another guy
it means begin

i don’t know if i love him
how do i know i trust him
piece by piece i touch him

i met another guy

im high in his bed
i met another guy

he wants me to beg

will you take me home
i had enough fun

i had enough fun
it needs to end

Trace DePass

Trace DePass



Trace Howard DePass is the author of self-portrait as the space between us (PANK 2018) & the  former editor of Scholastic’s Best Teen Writing of 2017. His work has been featured with Poetry Foundation, Ours Poetica, NPR’s The Takeaway, SAND Journal, Entropy Magazine, Split This Rock, The Poetry Project, Bettering American Poetry, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day
series. DePass is a fellow with Poets House, Obsidian, and Teachers & Writers.


Myopia is a conceit around seeing: Black people becoming new people, how grief takes up space in how we love & perceive ourselves, our lovers, our mothers, & siblings. During the pandemic, I lost  community, several aunts & a sister. Black communities go on living, loving & making art regardless of if we see eye to eye or possess the ability to see at all. But to see death & only see a singular end, I’m implying, is myopic. To inhabit a body with tools like glasses, or poetry,  or fellowships, allows me to not only see the tangible nearby but what all (y)our mothers see when they see us & we see each other thru life, thru love, & thru death & back from it. I wouldn’t be here if not for poetry & the inquiry that originates from not being able to see things clearly, like death, until we’re too close. Black folk love through things  & dual consciousness for me means double vision: that of sorting our  truth out from neglect &/or abuse; sometimes it’s reminding ourselves that we are [worthy] of love & God. The body on the other side of the street I literally cannot see [without glasses, plastics, or corrective surgery] was still there, somebody’s if not everyone’s child.

Black Listening's website front page header art and Obsidian 49.2 cover art were  created by Nettrice Gaskins

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