SEE ALL TAGS & MOODS
On TV it looked like a high-speed photo of a milk drop
the dying leader of the Pana Wave laboratory cult smack in the
Acres of white cloth streamered his followers, who
I was a kid other kids’
parents gossiped about.
They told their children
what I was: too negative.
I get it. Fair to fear
contagion of bad attitudes,
it was very sad the day we heard that dad would die but it was
also fun because all my friends came over and we went driving
in the blue Toyota that kelly’s sister terry drove
and i was the center of attention
Dreaming of one day being as fearless as a mango.
As friendly as a tomato. Merciless to chin & shirtfront.
Realizing I hate the word “sip.”
But that’s all I do.
You are light
when the sun is punched out
and darkness reigns.
You are the antidote
to what came before:
black blood, black heart,
hands tied, kneeling before
a ditch of human bones.
My niece calls me from my brother-in-law’s phone
While I’m getting ready to wash dishes. I pick up.
She says she needs to talk to her grandfather.
I tell her that her grandfather just went to sleep,
“Morning of goodness to you”
— “Morning of goodnesses”
Or add flowers: “morning of roses”
Always multiply the gift—
“welcome” to “two welcomes”
“a hundred welcomes and kinship and ease”
Weekends too my father roofed poor neighborhoods,
at prices only his back could carry
into profit. In the name of labor’s
virtue—or was it another bill collector’s callous
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
we are asking you to trust your hands. put them on your heart. trust
your heart. hear what we are saying. trust what you hear. we are
asking you to build a circle. always a circle. not almost a circle. face
We’re driving and the radio says mass marine extinctions within a
generation. No silence, no sirens — an unflustered inflection, then
stock markets, cryptic as Latin mass. I force myself: the interval
Now, we take the moon
into the middle of our brains
so we look like roadside stray cats
with bright flashlight-white eyes
in our faces, but no real ideas
of when or where to run.
We were a conflagration asking
to be incarnated into the world.
Mother, superstitious, kept us
apart, two stones of the same
Everyone saucered tears
i once shoved my foot through glass
getting to know my own anger
its patches of stupid
stress is just a socially acceptable
word for fear
Two dicks, sitting in
my daughter’s inbox,
like men without hats,
waiting for any door
Sighting a stranger’s penis
used to be rare. Remember raincoats?
Tonight, a strand of my great-grandmother’s hair
sashes an amber beer bottle discarded by a tourist.
A white thread of my grandmother’s baptismal robe
is a bangle on a wrist of kelp
Our mother gave us a sack of weed killer
the size of a toddler, and told us
to spread it on the front lawn.
My sister and I lugged it there.
A light cloud of white powder
drifted up to our nostrils
When my mother died,
one of her honey cakes remained in the freezer.
I couldn’t bear to see it vanish,
so it waited, pardoned,
in its ice cave behind the metal trays
for two more years.
In some, the luggage lies open
like a mouth mid-sentence.
In others, closed zippers grimace:
What would you have brought?
Slippers, a stuffed platypus, a gold watch
My grandmother puts her feet in the sink
of the bathroom at Sears
to wash them in the ritual washing for prayer,
because she has to pray in the store or miss
My father threw his language overboard,
a bag of kittens, waterlogged mewling:
small hard bodies.
My mother hung on to hers —
Wove the words like lace, an open web
when I try to talk to my mom about what it was like
to grow up surrounded by yt people in the prairies
in the 80s though it seemed like the 50s
she tells me in a so-there tone
i thought it was ok - i could understand the reasons
they said there might be young children or a nervous man seeing
this small piece of flesh that they weren’t quite expecting
The other people quit their stone fields to come here.
They slip in from nights that even the snow abandons.
They leave ashes in their glasses
and stains on the table.
Price depends on how the cheongsam
was made, the fabric used.
Gasp. Lift breasts with one hand.
Stuff your body inside.
If you wear this print of peonies
diaspora babies, we
are born of pregnant pauses/spilled
from unwanted wombs/squalling invisible-ink poems/written in the margins
of a map of a place
called No Homeland
What do they think about you,
the people who pass you on the street?
What would you like them to see?
They see the druggie, the whore, the junkie.
I remember my birth
like it was tomorrow, the unholy sensation
There, the bolting black kale,
taller than it has any right to be
and not the twitter troll who asked
if you were on your period.
In the corner, a pile of dead
zucchini leaves, spotted with rot
they say we are a family that is good at death / i make a decision to hold
a seminar on how to live / i schedule this party for my uncles on the first
day of spring / my dead uncles play hooky with the afterlife
My father liked them separate, one there,
one here (allá y aquí), as if aware
that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart
(el corazón) and lock the alien part
My dad taught me to never give out my real name, age,
address, or photos. This seemed obvious to me. My fake
birthday entry was always my crush's birthday plus a
Your mother is missing,
the nurse hovers at the door .
Your mother is missing, a bit louder this time.
As if this was natural, a daily game of let's find the Italian,
Dem did sey she pregnance
Cum a sea full a mi
Weighing har down eena har shoe dem
Dresses, coco, mangoes an baggy an arl
Dem did sey de ship nearly sink
Mi mumma nebah sleep a wink
it's okay if you only learned about your culture from Google
it's okay if you only read your language at the public library
Hands pressed to glass
At the park I look for Levita,
because our work is the same—
swaying wide-legged over foraging toddlers,
we avert bruises, discourage the consumption
had a dozen foster parents
tell me to run from my mother’s truth
the track marks up her arm,
How to describe sea
To someone who’s never seen it?
He lives to ninety-nine, he wants it, to see it
To walk on its glass surface, to blow the seven trumpets.
Your wedding day was a hurricane; your bride in red was like a kiss on
on the dry prairie dirt. You actually never told me the story of how it went.
The wedding, I mean. In fact, you never told me about how you chose
Dad has creases on his hands so thick they could split with a
poke. He gestures for me to try so I do. His skin bends on a
hinge and out spills every good and bad thing: cattails from our
I'd like to close the distance between us:
where you end, where I begin,
but your skin stops me,
I can't find my way in.
If I could, I'd press every bit of me
Bismillah is my first memory.
I became a bird in the Qur’an
at hardly eight years old.
I opened the dark green cover
and revealed the slippery
On the lee slope of the small coastal mountain
which conceals the sun the first hour after its rising,
in the dry, steep ravines, the live
mist of the heat is seething like dust
my mother occupies the passenger seat. my brother and i
stick in the back.
the radio babbles and sings between us. she is estranged, returning
in the south hebron hills the slanted hills
recall old songs, and the women collect
them like rain. the men have two-syllable
My father's speech was slurred most of my childhood — but it's a rite
of passage for many Maritime Canadians
'cause I heard from a friend of a friend that linguists say our accent
gap tooth black girl
back corner of class
poetry on blank paper
save the school's
curriculum for later
My poem without me in it—would it be like
my room when I had returned to it
after my mother was done with me.
Under my bed, only the outer
space balls, of dust, only