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I never thought Michiko would come back
after she died. But if she did, I knew
it would be as a lady in a long white dress.
It is strange that she has returned
as somebody's dalmatian. I meet
After the celebrations,
people, TV channels, telephones,
the year’s recently-corrected digit
finally falls asleep.
Between the final night and the first dawn
a jagged piece of sky
Dad reads aloud. I follow his finger across the page.
Sometimes his finger moves past words, tracing white space.
He makes the Moon say something new every night
to his deaf son who slurs his speech.
Thin are the night-skirts left behind
By daybreak hours that onward creep,
And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
The shaman at Broadway and Main
with a plastic shaker and some sage
says you’re my power animal. Says
we both have big brains, like to chatter.
I don’t know anything about dolphins, except
To Windrim or sycamore
rustle cicada or bark and to Wayne
to rustle and psoas and psoas to Belmont and Germantown hills
hills as to nearer Plateau as to Central and whisper wall Indian
Let Us Be Fireflies
All day we
practice morse code signals
upon contact / head first / baptismal
the rind of me / peels into ribbons
of foam / and pearls / i re-brown at the water’s
touch / its two-way mudmirror / hands me
its own name / earthliquid / bottomless
at least in our waking life
doubles as force
the most benign
are tinged eurocentric
when brown women die
We were a conflagration asking
to be incarnated into the world.
Mother, superstitious, kept us
apart, two stones of the same
Everyone saucered tears
As Whitman sang the body electric
Goodwin sings the body forested:
dense stand of dark-trunked saplings
illumined by a blood-streaked sky,
ominous forest where
abandoned children wander
Each day, I am apprenticed to the boy
I want to be.
He rifles the ball
and I catch it
or I fumble.
His red head ducks and weaves,
I remember my birth
like it was tomorrow, the unholy sensation
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
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.
Draw a line through our scattered bodies. The pattern of fallen calves in this meadow will mirror
the constellation above. Look up. We whip our tails to a silent song:
If you want to travel run
around the neighbourhood with an empty
suitcase in hand. At least once, full circle.
Wear yellow underwear
for the 31st, lest fortune oversee your cup
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
Give me a few more hours to pass
With the mellow flower ofthe elm-bough falling,
And then no more than the lonely grass
And the birds calling.
Give me a few more days to keep
I wear a peineta & pin a mantilla to my hair
I want to be Conchita Piquer warning women
about becoming lemons. The goal: tener alguien
quien me quiera. I want to be my mother singing me
There is a mouse under the sink
Little mouse turds around in the kitchen drawers
It is raining, storming
has gone to the dump
A view from two sides of Polaris, it is said:
the living awaits destined relatives to retort.
These people go around waking the sleeping ones
I've dreamt of you so often that you become unreal.
Is there still time to reach this living body and to kiss on its mouth the birth of
the voice so dear to me?
— “mu” twenty-eighth part —
On Antiphon Island they lowered
the bar and we bent back. It
wasn't limbo we were in albeit
for Roger Caillois
Water hollows stone,
wind scatters water,
stone stops the wind.
Water, wind, stone.
Wind carves stone,
No one else rescued me. Not my father
or my brother or, years later, the gentle man
who became my husband. Not my mother
or my best friend or any of the women
who listened to me tell my story
The young sun’s greeting
On my bed, your letter’s glow
All the sounds that burst from morning
Blackbirds’ brassy calls, jingle of gonoleks
Your smile on the grass, on the radiant dew.
The sun gave our shoulder blades ulu-shaped burns, and the sun gives nothing to our sort
I sleep now, and furiously
Clouds excreted shadows on the shoreline, and there were no clouds
You can't be an NDN person in today's world
and write a nature poem. I swore to myself I would never write a nature
poem. Let's be clear, I hate nature — hate its guts
Stepping off the plane in Whitehorse
the last thing I expect to feel
not quite alone
but close enough
here in this great black north.
As we drive away from the airport
Out of their torments men carved a flower
which they perched on the high plateaus of their faces
hunger makes a canopy for them
an image dissolves in their last tear
somewhere a little girl is reading aloud
in the middle of a dirt road. she smiles
at the sound of her own voice escaping
the spine of a book. she feeds on her hunger
i can barely speak in my mother tongues stutter
my accent is bad
i hate jalebi
but i like aloo samosa
i'm a bad brown
girl i didn't join the
SAA or the ISA
power lines held by birds
of prey the hostile expanse above
ditches teeming floral invasive
late summer the shoulder sang
holds breeze by
The 31st day of August 1914
I left Deauville a little before midnight
In Rouveyre’s little car
You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s
nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
grass is unusual
it was invented by the Romans
unlike most people grass stays where it grows
if grass had gone to the moon it would be there today
because grass looks luxurious
the animal in me
sleep is uncertain,
in the night,
I hear footsteps.
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which…
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
i twist and gasp
open and close my mouth
searching for air
whenever a sturgeon is caught in the rainy river
the feel of strange hands touching my body
Please read all the instructions carefully before proceeding.
Use only permanent blue or black ink.
If you have special needs that require accommodation,
I can manage being alone,
can pace out convivial hope
across my managing ground.
Someone might call, later.
What do the dead make of us
that we’d flay ourselves trying
It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again
it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower
and every flower a tiny tributary
You’d have to pay us
Could you pay us enough
To live for a stretch
There’s a joke that ends with — huh?
It’s the bomb saying here is your father.
Now here is your father inside
your lungs. Look how lighter
the earth is — afterward.
Yes, injured Woman! rise, assert thy right!
Woman! too long degraded, scorned, oppressed;
O born to rule in partial Law’s despite,