As You Roamed The Earth, You Felt The Drying Skin of Age Itself

it is the waking that is the hardest.
the first step in sleep deprivation:
you learn you miss dreaming
of holes, the spaces between lines,

the gap between the train and platform.
you dream of ways in which to die,
how the train brushes against your feet,
the space just big enough for your thigh.

there are other gaps you remember:
misspelled gpas, an empty desk
in class. visions of your friends,
long gone and passed, moss-grown,
flowers atop: a forlorn crown.
their faces eating the light.

in chasing the gap you lose yourself
in the coming and going, in finding
the joy of godless verse, the sound
when you spread her legs, or some
other sex line that marks you adult,
because penetration is the space
between childhood and modernity,
the answer to your wet dreams.

you tell that to your mother, spit
in her mouth, regurgitate the soap.
still dripping from last night, your
eyes clouded with the ocean.
before you leave, look in her eyes.
they are the ending credits of a film.
they are the same sea, the same salt.
you, the end of pages in a book.
you, the closed off dog-ear.

because you never hear of
hungry children, you
eat yourself whole, give in
to desire, the single moment
when your teeth eat into your lips
when your mouth burrows into your tongue.

this dream that eats away at your tail.

all this, to uncover
the space which your voice hides in:
the gap behind the kitchen cabinet.
that unknown place it goes
when you can’t find it, unwilling
to be coaxed out, like the last drop of wine
like a petulant child, forever, forever.

13 Superstitions for a Damsel in Distress

On the backstreet home, watch out for black
cats stalking your footsteps. Don’t step in
puddles with your high-heeled horseshoes:
the clack draws all sorts of bad folk. Knock
on wooden doors along the way – let them
know you are there, once, or twice:
unexpected deaths come in threes.
Ring every bell – let chimes cover you,
light the path home, keep watch.
Needless to say, avoid the ladders.
They take you nowhere useful enough,
except upwards. Pennies on roads
are only shiny traps – they are not worth it.
Likewise, check both ways when you cross
your fingers, or your reflection in street
windows. Shatter them if necessary.
Take a photo if you must, to save your soul.
Let the itch of your palm be a prayer that you’re home.
Salt the door. Let relief open like an umbrella.

spwm day 13

LOVE GIVES WAY

on the elevator she steps aside,
lets others into the gantries first.
she hasn’t seen a mirror in years:
in the dark, she feels about
her shape, is satisfied with being.
what was her name?
she knew it was a saint’s.
it just had to be.
in the dark she swallows
even without being asked.
she’s used to it –
the familiar samsara
of hiding and regurgitating
clicks in her hands like a rosary.
extinct, creatures re-emerge
from her bosom. she’d lay
eggs if she needed to,
let these children
burrow into her flesh.
because everyone,
everyone needs some hope,
she scribbles on her arm.
how many times? she sleeps
under a shroud of ink.
last week she ordained
the marriage of adam and eve.
tomorrow she’ll turn into
mother teresa
because deep down inside
she craves to be
her second coming.
a bead snaps underfoot.
her mouth is ever shut:
beneath the veneer
of pavement teeth,
a long tongue
coils about
old meat,
never letting up,
never letting go.

spwm18 day 4.

whose seat, whose table

I.

I was the first, one of the first. But you know
first one’s a fool. Who’s gonna get in line?
First one to go, first one to fight the way.
We lived in the throat of death every day.

Where you’re criminal because of who you are.
“These people ain’t gonna do nothing for us.
You need to start your own army,” he said.
There we bowed our heads. Broke our bread

that night. We shook our hands, then conquer
and divided what used to be home. Hit ‘em
while they watched. I’m tired of explaining,
‘where’d your love go?’ Man, this shit is draining.

This concrete don’t have any love for us,
for nothing, whatever it’s worth. Nothing.
That was my childhood. I was angry for years.
Angry, very angry…

II.

They say you got the right to be mad
but you gotta let it go. Look what remains:
pour your ashes where they claimed my name.
Where I changed. But ‘a pity if I stayed the same?’
That’s my battle cry. Gotta hit ‘em when they watch.
But what you gonna do when they saw all your moves
and practiced ‘em daily? Protect your neck, or give
invitations? People, sitting around pointing fingers.
I tried to drink it away, put one in the air like
cranes in the sky. But I bet on it, you’ll all
still be here when the lights come out,
still looking for temporary nothings.
Still looking for nothing.
They don’t understand
you got the right to be mad.
But when you carry it alone, you find it
only getting in the way. You gotta let it go.
Fall in your ways. Let it crumble. Dance it away.
So I took that anger and put it into my music, hoping
my son will bang this song so loud that he almost makes
his walls fall down, cause momma wants to make him proud –
oh, to be us, facing the world.

III.

The streets say you’re a king;
the world says you’re a failure
and your mother is a queen.
But you know that a king is only a man
with flesh and bones: he bleeds just like you do.
Now, we come here as slaves,
but we going out as royalty, knowing
these people done paved they way.
He asked, “Where does that leave you?
Where’s the peace? Do you belong?”
I said, “in you, in you.” My pride:
don’t touch it. The glory’s all mine.


spwm18 day 2

Solange is the younger sister of Beyonce. She used to be a backup dancer for Destiny’s Child. Even though she is also an accomplished singer, not enough people knew or talked about her until very recently.

This whole poem is comprised of nothing but lines taken ad-verbatim from her album, “A Seat at the Table”. I rearranged them to capture the main themes of the album plus present a narrative. I really loved this album and I hope that if you didn’t like my poem, you’d still give the album a chance.

The Conjuror’s Closet

“Tomorrow wears yesterday’s face.” – Flavour text from ‘Conjurer’s Closet’, Magic The Gathering

Warily the doors creak as

I am reaching into the ether

again my hands are billowing

in the current of adrenaline and

shivering like kites caught in trees

I am reaching in to bring out magic

trickery (n.) the practice of deception

but can I be cunning while being honest

I ask into the closet doors where the dark

hangs still, I push past the foliage of outfits

my assistant is told to extract the corporeal

form, the wisp of alabaster moving past her

for she is a dancer in the sky and in spotlight air

for she is a dancer in the sky and in spotlight air

the light sieving through her, the light sieving

the gentlemen in the back faint but comes

again and she and I and she all take a bow

and the show ends and soon the applause

resounds dully as if thrown onto wooden

capsule cast chest casket coffin chamber

where we stored our glitter rabbit magic

secrets (n.) age-old practice of deception

but can I be honest about this cunning

the art of reviving the dead for coins

and after I called you out – here I am

reaching out if only to pull you back

like kites caught in shivering trees

and in the rush of the current

my hands billow again, reach

-ing into the ether forever

– before I lock the doors.

Brittle Jade

You bottled message parlor
woman. You crackled knuckle.
You tremulo. I am divining josses
in your will. I am folding you into
a boat. I am paying Father to take
a short trip. To look elsewhere. Oh,

you cloud of jade. You page of
filled out crossroad answers.
You wreath of drawers. You little
wreck of bouquet flowers. I am
drawing you a bath in absentia.
I am letting you out, like a flood.
I am letting you, out like a flood.

dream notes

Last night, I dreamt
of an old friend picking
up smoking, cigarettes
with the look of pencils
(because she wanted to be
a teacher, you see).
I dreamt of people
I did not know.

Last night, I dreamt,
aside from her smoking lead,
of a table mired in the middle
of nowhere, all of us seated:
just a circle of forgotten things.
Names, dates, faces, friends,
spaces – between our chairs,
each drag of a cigarette,
when we try to speak.

Among the ashes
rises a tribal smoke,
like children, in a morning
class: unsteadily,
uneasily. These signals,
I continue to see:
call placed with no receiver,
dreams of quiet revival,
a slow stir that rouses none.
A fleeting, meaningless dream.