All rights to the works included in this magazine remain with their respective authors. All rights to this issueâ€™s cover art (Untitled, 2015) remain with the artist Tomi Nova. Zoomoozophone Review is an online literary magazine dedicated to publishing contemporary poetry. It is edited by Matt Margo. http://issuu.com/zoomoozophone_review http://facebook.com/zoomoozophonereview firstname.lastname@example.org
Our seventh issue features poets of color only and is dedicated to the memory of Gwendolyn Brooks, former U.S. Poet Laureate.
Ye Min what she said about words
Sydney Tayler Colbert SALTWATER: Black Joy
Ebony Stewart Sway Wash
Sade Murphy as pencil and discipline on muslin as ink and insecurity on cardboard
Kushal Poddar The Way Books Should Be Read When Clouds Died
Maria Ng August 21st
Barbara Ruth Frida In Buffalo’s Tipi
Ajise Vincent Too Much to Ask…. A Poet’s Depression
Bob McNeil American Tears Uncle Moocher’s Debt Text to Resurrect Revolution
26 27 28
kiran anthony foster on falling in love with a revolutionary I AM TURNING INTO MY FATHER/I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT IT.txt liberal bias: a long-form poem
29 31 36
Shane Allison ON DREAMING OF KYLE SECOR NAKED WHEN TERRORISTS FLEW A PLANE INTO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER WHAT I REMEMBER ABOUT CHRIS LIME GREEN JELLO IS THE WAY TO A MAN’S HEART
41 44 49
Sebastián Maldonado-Vélez New and Selected
Adrian Ernesto Cepeda En la ciudad de Mexico
Nooks Krannie In with you
Sandow Sinai (transplant)
Kou Sugita Poor POC @ Rich Kid Skool Seeking self
Uche Ogbuji Lone Star Dub First Rains
Jennifer Patiño Camino de Guanajuato Hermana Pansa Verda
Melodic Rose Deliverance
Uche Nduka How Do You Know Tell Me A Fresh Start
65 66 67
David e. Patton Ode on the American Man
she said we donâ€™t have the words to say what it is
we struggle and hold onto meaning when meaning is inadequate
she said, when there are no more words
we will use what is left
The eggplant tone of her skin sharpened itself against the soft pastel of the taffy. She carefully unwrapped it and ripped a piece off itself, slowly dragging the gooey taffy between the tips of her strong, white teeth. She had no exciting stories to tell. No ripe romance to unfold into her lap underneath the tree branches where she hid from a faded sun. Even this day was listless. Meaningless and as meaningful as a day typically is. The taffy started to melt and squirt tart, pleasurable juices betwixt the gaps and gums in her pink mouth. She could smell the sweet perfume of â€œgreen appleâ€? tickling the openings of her nostrils. She thought of how beautiful her lips might seem to an onlooker. Huge, pursed, and puckered in this sweet moment of tasting. She thought of how silly her tongue will look, now stained green, when she goes to poke it to her mama. She thought of all the little bugs and beans of the world. Everything, inanimate and not, made her fade off into a frenzy of delicious thought. Most of all, she thought about how peculiar her name was. . . Joy. Not something fit for an eggplant girl, living here and now. She had a fearless delight that seethed sorrow and abandoned the misery from which her family had come to be known by. Underprivileged and ill-tempered were the labels constantly slapped on the backs of her descent. But not Joy. She was Joy. If it ever did exist in the form of a big, soft girl like her. Undeniably beautiful. Eating everything in sight from cotton candy to rain drops, cornbread to clouds, she encompassed everything. A pure light. A mound of rhythms and struggle and spice and hips and love swollen. She was the sweet hymn of life. The tart of taffy.
She swallowed down the melted taffy in one smooth gulp and beamed inside herself. Happy for nothing, pissing off demons.
Dear Black girl, You mispronounced wonder You hand-me-down strange fruit You bending-tree-splintered-and-spray rooted life You stately-pour-mansion mouth with the stars falling out You grip, grab, and growl You hold on, stuck black You surviving scorched temple Sway. You bob-head, battle rap body, and graffiti tongue causing cacophonies You harmony and hip-hop booty Legs Be standing Be flyy Be gathered razor smile and raging fists bulging in back pockets for the long walk home Be ready Be two to the body and one to the face Be kicking, screaming Be calling all your pieces back Be love Be remembering how You be Black woman So been know how Since mama taught you how to make a braid and break bread with other Amazons Gurl, sway. You balmy coil beauty making raucous with your hair You knotted brown black You dark meat You volcanic laugh Say, I own myself Say, I validate me and birth gods
Raised yo mama and yo mama’s mama ain’t nothing but a mammy taught you everything you know good O anyhow Gospel O hallelujah Praise Black girl… sway. Even when your bones hurt When they make wilt out of your name Try and blow out your flame You be bigger Show ’em you got that ether Make ’em burn slow You be inferno, be progressive Be fan, clap, and snap This shit is magic – you’d have to be a Black girl to understand Show ’em how it all got started How the bricks got laid That this is what happens when the ink spills When your ancestors dance your worth awake. Dear Black girl, Sway. Swoon. WOOSH!
(after Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”) Wash your clothes on Sundays, so you can be clean for the week. Wash your body every day; you wanna smell good, don’t you?; this is what pure looks like; pure has nothing to do with color; pure is clean, feeling whole; watch how you play with boys; boys become men, men know how to make you dirty, make you less than; don’t play those games; pure is clean, feeling whole; you wanna smell good, don’t you?; if I can smell you, that’s a problem; what happen?; Ya carry sewage in ya poom poom?; Ya let cha curry go bad?; this is how you wash; this is how you wipe; this is what baby powder smells like… what roses smell like… what pineapples taste like… you wanna taste good, don’t you?; you wanna be sweet, don’t you?; this is how you use cocoa butter, yes for your hair, yes, in-between your toes; this is how smooth feels; this is how you shine… you should always shine; pure has nothing to do with color; this is how you keep a house… dishes should be well scrubbed, floors streaked and vacuumed; Open the curtains so you can see your garden. Are you maintaining your garden?; are your windows clear?; can you see across the street?; fluff those pillows for backs; wipe the dust away; you don’t want everything to look old, like you never have company, like you live in a shoe; there’s potpourri and incense, burn candles, something good is cooking… is it gumbo!?; something hot should just be coming out of the oven; this is how you keep a house; this is how you lock a door… say ‘Who is it’ before you open it; look through the peephole before you open it; how does your heart feel?; check your breathing; you don’t have to open it, if you don’t want to; warm blood, cold hands, the most comfortable step forward is cotton is clouds is easy; rock sway steady this boat… this is how safe feels; this is what calm looks like; are you worried? look in the mirror… do you know your worth? Check the skin on your forearms; goose bumps ain’t always a good thing; the door, your heart, your legs… you don’t have to open ‘em, if you don’t want to;
this is how you say ‘NO’… suck your teeth; roll your eyes; say ‘What chu want from me now!?’; make your body stiff, your hands a fist; flip your heart on its other side; this is how you make someone go away; but you may want what you want; “the heart always wants what it wants”; so, this is how you make someone stay… smile with your right shoulder; smize, girl; be fierce and sure and humble, a mystery; make your arms a bundle. Have banana bread ready; have warm milk or apple cider ready; all these things should be fresh; you should taste fresh; pure is clean, feeling whole; this is how you let someone in… only tell your stories; don’t tell someone else’s stories; you’re not allowed to tell stories that aren’t your own; business; you might wanna keep that, too; don’t be that woman; that woman has a hard time knowing her worth; this is how you stay present; this is what honesty looks like; what the truth feels like, on your lips and your tongue; you wanna be trusted, right?; you wanna keep your peace, right?; have hands people can give things to; there’s a difference between listening and speaking; know when to do which, girl; hold your heard, girl; girl, please… don’t entertain everything; don’t be a gossip girl; don’t be that woman; that woman has a hard time knowing her worth; wash your body every day; you wanna smell good, don’t you?; pure has nothing to do with color; pure is clean, feeling whole; now, ask me how to be sexy.
honey your name is not what people think you are the gentle gurgle of Riesling poured into a chalice senseless liquid taking on form feasance choking down non solid terms the hidden tattoo on the peninsula pendant my life you savor I admit I am in love with you and the posse of prostitutes you cherish fat cat languishing bathing in a chastity displayed like a metal menagerie you seldom dust bitten lips cobwebbed cherries sweeter than spring scented fruitility held hostage though I roam like a raiding Apache and watermark you in my dreams to war with your split personas I think you are too good to succeed you feel you are not good enough sin drums through your melted away flesh you become a fiddler a whittler of driftwood a carver of canyons an investment vested on a humid summer streetlet not needy you knead shoulders and backs smothered in clay closing your eyes to seek and destroy in a temple or brow smile stalled in cheekbones while your toes grasp for wreckage and you army crawl through a shallow shore you began to begin again a jarred salve a harpoon sold the heroin A line empress wearing all four skirts of direction and element smeared so with ashes that your lexemic tears drizzle a salient path to your hewn heart as you sleep and you weep hued patina green woman you are a musty tome found fluted refrain trembling down a bluff now that your roots are braided carob silk where will you plant yourself borderline narcoleptic elevator even though you draw and pout like a child in the lap of luxury with a stubborn high ass I caught songs in your palm stained self conscious magenta your right ankle fell asleep writing sweet coat cuff curry hummus misplace our spare time I tell you the truth you purse your lips like an angel I am undeserving but that does not stop me from praying you will love me back
you bundle of clitoral nerves you never hook up do not smile genuine will not crow feet instead your teeth hidden empuse in a haunted smirk sentimental egoĂŻste this is a two against one way street and I regret everything you are a narcissus on stilts a flickering streetlight mosquito bites scabbing at the roots of my hair my staunch sense of humor my capital letter down easy shivering spine my trig patois skylarking to sociopathy a rigor mortis raggedy anthem swivel stick diabetic coma comma soda jerk a round delight you are my bung beetle a porcelain veneer damn unicornish mother hen rolling cobs and blunt implicative pronouns you are citronella soap a brochure of toilet water samples collected from urinals at the Apollo Gihon the train to gorgeous cakely transcendental being you are ten unabridged copies of Les Miserables I carry uphill in a hailstorm pelting Bovarian cream pie I want to keep you in the cocoon I want you to be larvae I love you so much that I have to extinguish your hot coal skeleton before I walk over you conundrum in a cardigan Oreo cookie buoyant in milk I do not need you I only like the impossibility of you your rhinoceros horned pig snout you are Nemoâ€™s lovechild asexually spawned and spawning a pawn a star striking melodious ladybird of the night you are the redundant guardian a resounding milk thistle moon your invitation got lost in the mail do not fret you are mere an Alaskan journal entry a whining dog in a crate a caterpillar diving in the shade squirming in the grass
The snail rears the hardcover, your gardening book, upside down. The silent page says chapter on winter floriculture ends here. The snail reads between the hushed lines. Its slime darts through the stained circle. I set my tea just to irk you.
So when the clouds crumble everywhere, the battle over, breathing leaden, hands held and yet this lonesomeness farspread outward and within, blue begins to consume me, consummate, devours. I stand still, all clear to me - here I be, here I cease to mean anything. So, I need to fall, my knees pressed against my ribs, my bottom blackened with the cloudsâ€™ blood, my head turning towards me still standing. Sit, I urge. I hear not a single syllable.
Every day I wonder, did you have a record player? He Yong / male / February 1, 1969 / born in Beijing / rock singer. Nǎinai didn’t like the smell of catfish, so she threw it down a well. Yéyé wasn’t happy with that. But he shrugged and had rice instead. Accepting anything is home. And Dou Wei, Zhang Chu magic rock record company signed the same period, known as the "magic rock three heroes", represents a new force of Chinese rock. Echoing home during a road trip by Dad playing some Peking. My brother said it sounded weird. I doubt he had a record player. He studied Chinese folk music elementary school participated in various cultural performances. 1980 film, Four Small Partner, and participated in two TV series and a shooting commercials. In Cuba, Chino Cubanos wanted to bring back Beijing opera. We look for various places of home that are too far out of our reach.
Middle school came into contact with popular music, learning guitar, and learn from the teacher Banjo. Dreaming of home. We can’t remember, because we never met them. It never feels the same anyway. All we have is what is in our finger prints. Eighties, has joined the major arts groups, traveled north and south, he began writing the first song, "Yangtze first drift," Mayday after joining the band as a guitarist, living a happy life music, creativity malpractice. When our eyes roll back, revealing the whites behind, home is a nano-second running by too fast for us to say goodbye. It’s just never the same.
Author’s Note: In italics is a brief, slightly modified, Google translated, Chinese biography of He Yong from Baike Baidu.
If anyone has a claim to anyone I claim Frida Kahlo As a Jew an Indian a crip a woman sterile because of disability a woman who loves women who calls the earth mother who makes art in the face of/from the soil of pain. If I’d known about Frida when I was able-bodied I’d have found a way to go to Coyocan I’d have seen her wheelchair drawn up before her easel her crutches by the footboard of her bed her Chinese dolls the Aztec pyramid in her garden the retablos on her walls; if I’d known about her then I’d have found a way to go. A lot of things aren’t fair. Sometimes we reinvent ourselves to find the truth beneath the facts. A Jewish Mexican girl, Frida took the “e” out of her name after Hitler came to power to subtract the German. She changed her birthdate to match it to the Mexican revolution called herself Frida the Gimp. She continuously embellished: decorated her bedspread with flowers and sugar skulls embroidered her petticoats’ hems with lewd quotations wore glass beads from Woolworths and rings of Mayan jade. When asked her philosophy of life she said, “Make love, take a bath, make love again.” When she remarried Diego Rivera she made him sign a contract forbidding intercourse she loved sex but it hurt too much to fuck. So many things hurt too much. Her body broken and broken again scoliosis, polio, then the bus accident, the rail which pierced from left hip to right labia that moment fractured her back, ribs, pelvis, leg, foot, left her with a broken column for a spine a womb which could carry no babies to term.
She recovered which is to say, she survived to live a life of complications: infection, abscess, pneumonia tuberculosis, phlebitis, gangrene paralysis. So many things hurt. “I was practically murdered by life but am somehow still alive.” Strapped in her wheelchair in order to paint and when that didn’t work her easel rigged above her where she lay despite the doctors’ orders to put away her brushes. Her leg in traction, she made puppet shows with her feet. She painted flowers on her casts - there were so many and a hammer and sickle on her orthopedic corset. In the hospital, when they took away her paints, she decorated her cast with lipstick and iodine. Wild, passionate, tempestuous, her back, foot, pelvis in unremitting pain, she painted the violent deaths of women their blood dripping onto the frames. “I am broken but I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint…. Death dances around my bed at night, I feel a desperation no words can describe.” She described it with oils insisting the viewers enter her world of exquisite wounds insisting we let the dynamite-laced skeleton over her bed come into our dreams. Over and over she painted herself braced against her own vulnerability perfect breasts and bandages together and always, the mustache over her full lips eyebrows meeting above the devouring stare of hazelnut eyes those eyes raining tears down her cheeks, down her breasts. So much suffering, so much alegria. Her monkey and dog pals surrounded her and always, the arms and roots of la tierra. Mexico wept for her daughter as she nursed her. Frida fed all her life on that milk, those tears.
Pregnant in Detroit, she cried, “My baby hurts me!” A few days later when she hemorrhaged and they rushed her and wheeled her through the hospital hallways she turned her eyes to the rococo painting on the ceiling: “¡Que precioso!” Frida knew if she waited till she didn’t hurt to look for beauty she’d never see any. One biographer said Frida could not have possibly been in as much agony as she claimed. - She couldn’t have painted so much so well. The writer said some of her thirty surgeries were to keep Diego from straying too far, because Frida was a masochist. It’s the same old story: an able-bodied person’s refusal to believe a crip’s reality the desperation of our choices. Frida traveled thousands of miles to specialists with new plans for treatment, wore corsets of plaster, steel and metal wires, hung suspended for hours, for years. When her toes turned black, doctors said the gangrene could kill her. “I am very tired of this fucking foot. I would like to be painting and not worrying about so many problems.” So she agreed to amputation, first at the toes, then the knee. Afterwards, she wished she hadn’t let them cut her. After all it was her crippled foot and operations never made her well, amputation didn’t stop the pain but left instead a raw, unhealing wound. Frida longed “to be able to walk, to be able to work” and when you’ve been a crip for years and doctors tell you they can cure you or at least make you walk a little better hurt a little less die a little later even though you know you know your body better than anyone else could ever know your body, still, you’re scared, you’re tired you want so much to believe and so sometimes you do and sometimes you succumb. Everything she couldn’t do she longed to do. She yearned to dance to march in the demonstrations to have babies.
“This thing of feeling such a wreck from head to toe sometimes upsets my brain…. I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows but now the damn things have learned to swim.” A few months before she died Frida had a one-woman show in Mexico City. The gallery owner thought she was too ill to attend but of course Frida wouldn’t miss it: she’d mailed out handmade invitations to her friends. So much has already been written about Frida. Still I add these words. In the midst of my own life of complications I stake my claim to a driven sisterhood of wounded gifts offerings of ragged love. It hurts. Yes the world is beautiful. Yes we go on creating, giving to our people, making art making love fighting against injustice and it never stops hurting. At the end, eyes luminous with Demerol she wound her hair into flowered braids put on her bracelets and Tehuana dress. She’d been dying and beautiful for years: she’d gotten quite good at it. “I hope that the exit is joyful and I hope I never return.” When the cart carried her corpse along the iron tracks of the crematorium, her crimson toenails peeked from the hem of her skirt. The mourners sang the Internationale as the heat from the fire made her torso rise and her hair blazed around her face like an aura. She was 47 years old and she didn’t hurt any more.
Red She Bear says more Native women kill themselves each day. “It’s the squares that do it. Living in those rooms with all those corners makes us crazy.” I know of squares have found myself too often in a corner back against hard walls. I carry in my body manmade stainless steel and liquid plastic. They saved my life. They robbed my soul. They changed me. We sit in Buffalo’s tipi, wrapped in skins and smoke. All mixed-bloods, dykes, many nations yearning to become one tribe, hungry for the love of one another. Even here I feel different lonely for another Jew another mixed as I am mixed I always want it all. I am afraid of doing something wrong disrespect through ignorance. I need to be taught which way to move how to hold the pipe. I have no chant to share do not know my name in Potowatomee. Red She Bear speaks of warrior training: piercings, sweats and fasting to purify the heart. Because she is a pipe holder, it is forbidden for her to return violence, to avenge. Her intentions must stay clear. Buffalo puts down the drum she made. “So often at the conferences, in the universities it’s the mixed-bloods who are chosen to be speakers. We all see who gets the money.”
The light-skinned who have passed as white and who may pass again. It is no accident we have the education, verbal skills no accident our words get published more no accident the full-bloods speak of this in anger. I do not want a privilege my darker sister cannot share. I do not want my life to be based on what kills her. I cannot draw a bow or fire a pipe. Iâ€™ve never seen the sun dance never made a drum. And yet, and yet, I feel I too may die of perpendiculars. I have no use for parallels which never meet when still my dearest dream is reconciliation. I cannot be the spokeswoman for Indians cannot deny my privileges or pain. Cannot suppress the Jew, the white woman I am as the native child circles to the left. It must be all at once. It has always been.
I. Iâ€™m tired of hearing tales about naked town carriers who deflower decorum with fallacies so as to procreate diatribes. Iâ€™m tired of rendering verdicts to impotent governments at the village square where power dances to the hymns of blind beggars. I tell you itâ€™s disheartening.
II. I just want a clime where the kola nut is broken to mud coils of war. Sincerely, an ambience devoid of slaughtered dreams, visions, policies. I just want to pour dust on the corpse of corruption whose stench is presently choking posterity. Is that too much to ask?
When I exfoliate the apparel of anomality, place my mouth on the protuberance of her tits, sucking the muse for my stanzas. They say I am depraved. When I visit the grave of the gods, pull out their decomposing-scrotums, rummaging for the primordia of my ancestry. They say I am insane. When I pick up slaughtered-marabouts at Jerusalem and turn them towards Mecca, so they can be eulogized by the nudity of nature. They say I am callous. But are my in(actions)/thoughts not Karmaâ€™s augury? Even if they are demand for idiosyncrasies, supply of oddities, alternative-forgones. Why then do they annihilate the glory of decency with whips of diatribes. Why do they shoot the messenger instead of the message? Why?
Countee Cullen and I are of this consensus: Prejudice drafts psychopaths. Their warpaths transfix our people to many a crucifix. There resides the reason why my protest must never relax from typing its attacks. Addressed to your psyche, my compositions are microphones for Emmett Till, Michael Griffith, Yusef Hawkins, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham, Trayvon Martin, Darius Simmons, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Addressed to your psyche, you can hear the murdered entreat: “Don’t allow another name to join a homicide report sheet. Don’t allow another name to join a homicide report sheet.” Addressed to your psyche, the compositions I’ve written are parts of a bulletin, the passages transmit to our terra firma’s retina. Addressed to your psyche, my protest wants life to evict the combustive and discriminative. If armed with you, Lawfulness will live.
i. you told me later, rubbing lazy circles into the hollow of my hip, that when you first set eyes on me i had impressed you. i was blood-red hair and black leather and surgical steel i set in my ears myself. beneath my accent i wore anger in my voice. you saw the revolution in me, and you were never afraid.
ii. cheap chinese food in the central business district on a friday night, and we found out we shared an ideology. read the same people. (read the people we could. spoke the same intuitive, accessible radicalism. couldnâ€™t read the same people.) there were others at our table, distantly orbiting our bright stars of discourse, and we were drunk on cameraderie, not yet on each other. not yet consciously on each other.
iii. you have never known me before i became known for trying to fight a losing war.
i was asked to speak at yet another protest when you had never been to one. i saw your apprehension and understood when you begged out. you ended up coming anyway, and you and your other partner clapped for me even though my voice was clothed in exhaustion and broke with grief. you told me you knew i would be powerful.
iv. one by one the spaces where we should be safe turn into sackcloth and barbed wire. they are killing us. they are killing us, and yet they are indignant at our helpless rage. we create our own spaces. we share pirated radical academic papers, and we smear subversion on second-hand shirts, and we roll twenty-sided dice to navigate a grotesque world that is still kinder than our own. we are drowning under the weight of our realities, and we turn it into spoken word for two.
v. there were too many police, but escaping the worst of the violence we surged onward to lead the rally. my voice was shrill and yours was hoarse, and weâ€“ we are in the newspapers, each with one hand pulling a banner taut and the others clasped together. in the shower, sloughing off the weight and stench of our fear, we cannot rid ourselves of the fire singing in our veins.
(content warning: rape) teh-tarik cream crackers and far too much condensed milk like you used to have before you got diabetes nobody told me you got diabetes, you know? my girlfriend has diabetes type one, not the type two i’ll no doubt end up with if i live long enough for the strength of your coffee and your genes to percolate through my betrayed blood we fucked in your bed while you were gone/ camellia and i/ you and mom’s bed, and/ biting down on each gasp/ so the children upstairs wouldn’t hear us/ you bought that entire crate of jelly watches on groupon too big for anyone’s wrists eye for a bargain more like eye for another way to spend money too kiasu not kiasi enough you know what is it that you’re winning anyway (what is it you gain when you’re spending money) and i, and i and i and i bought a lenovo laptop for eighteen hundred dollars the other day staff discount from a friend to replace the one you threw at my head two thousand seven hundred from lenovo online with a discount from your workplace better than this one, but dying, and heavy too heavy for my four-foot-ten hundred-pound to your five-foot-ten two-hundred and i buy bras (30dd for me 40a for cam she didn’t want to know her measurements) on aliexpress six bucks apiece sizes nobody sells for less than sixty dollars tiny darkskin hooker and their lily-white trans girl fiancee who gets ten percent of every paycheck the same way you gave mom an allowance, you know for having to deal with you and how difficult you are and keep the house in order,
except you also tithe to god my tithe is to the only person i believe in i bought cam a lenovo too you know refurb three hundred dollars i went into town for a one-day sale and i’m starting to become convinced that thinkpads are the only computers for autistic programmers like the three of us when i ran away benzos and box wine and bourbon mixed with sriracha in a dingy student flat up eight flights of stairs in wellington belonging to two other hookers cam and i call our dads these days wading through motorway traffic twelve hours from home knocking on car windows excuse me i ran away from home i need a ride to the train station to go see my girlfriend i need to see my girlfriend they found out i was gay and i ran away please it was a good new year anyway and we ate too many nuggets and i told my not-you dads i had ten thousand dollars ten thousand dollars four thousand on rent and bond for a place i paid everyone’s bond because which other disabled trans kid has money like i do years of shoplifting and hoarding in singapore frugal with myself and exorbitant with everyone else i bought another one of my flatmates a computer too you know six thousand dollars and three thousand for bond for the place down the road they still owe me they still owe me three thousand and they don’t talk to me these days because i’m autistic like you are you know i can’t tell them otherwise if they fuck up and i’m not good at mincing my words and that’s how we ended up leaving singapore anyway wasn’t it you burned too many bridges and maybe i will too except that the queer community never was much of a place to find safety to begin with there’s not five million people you never told me i/ was intersex even though i grew up/ malformed cunt and too-early/ breasts and rape and rape and rape and/ mixedrace rojak goodfornothing/ mongrel with the weirdest body any of them had ever seen/
you turn fifty in two years and the twenty-year-old you were will be ashamed of the person you’ve become you know it i know it (the twentyyear-old i am is ashamed of you is ashamed) what ever happened to the life you had what ever happened to the color-pencil murals on your dorm walls parade floats you made (i protested the pride parade in auckland because the cops were in it) what ever happened to “this government is corrupt and illegitimate” why do you defend the worst prime minister new zealand has had in forever and hear no criticism against him you still think singapore’s government has too much power but you have no problem with the gcsb? new zealand hooking up with the usa is a good thing but singapore sucks up to whites too much you’re gonna marry a white man some day aren’t you you told me and it’s half true you’d probably think she’s a man anyway three thousand dollars and you make one-twenty thousand a year you told me very grudgingly when i needed the information to apply for a student allowance (and of course i’m not eligible you’re far too rich) but i got out a loan and i’m squandering it all on rent and macdonalds and textbooks and bus fare and medicine medicine antipsychotics shipping for makeup that doesn’t come off on dicks when you suck them hooking is exhausting work without having only half a cunt and a nonfunctional reproductive system cam and i still managed to conceive you know messy bloody miscarriage and me laid up in bed for a week passing clots and passing out my uterus is as broken as our family home pa and you won’t do anything about either of those things not even give me access to my health insurance my baby book my birth fucking certificate i was lucky that i took my passport with me when i ran half my clothes are hole-riddled years old don’t fit me any more the kind mom used to throw out for you that you kept from college the other half are new always new hooker clothes spandex and lace and shoplifted tucked in my leather-look garters so the security guards are too embarrassed to frisk me new clothes for cam who can’t shop on her own because she’ll get beaten up and she doesn’t have the money anyway
mom doesn’t and mom loves shopping gets tired and sits down (cam gets panicked and leaves) and we pick up the bags and pay and go join them our beautiful delicate girls and their quiet goodness and way of keeping their noses out of business even when they have the same convictions we do because we’re busybody talk-too-loud autistics with nothing better to do than pick fights and stand up for the little guy not that it helps when the little guy is usually us or someone we love (don’t talk to me ever again about the malaysian government discriminating against you because you were indian if you can’t also acknowledge that malay are an indigenous people who are largely very fucking poor in singapore) you saw me on tv because you still watch the goddamn mainstream news well when you’re not telling me how the politics newsdesk editor is fucking the opposition party leader you’re sure of it but you ignore your tiny runaway child hugging a bunch of other bright-hair black-clothes activist trans kids sobbing in relief we got a trans girl into a women’s prison, pa a teenager who defended herself from a man stalking her and was jailed with men and you’d hate her i know you would you hate cam i know you would if you knew her and i can’t believe that your parents got married cross-caste you got married cross-race and you always thought i would marry a white and that was more palatable to you than marrying a girl. a trans girl. you raised me on dickens/ tolstoy, bronte, encyclopaedias and/ english-language everything you wanted/ me to marry a white businessman or/ maybe become president/ and i flunked out of law school/ to use my words for/ this/ scholarship kids we both were drifting in a world that was home-but-not-home cut off from the families of our birth and the māori call it whenua you know the placenta the land the indestructible connection to a homeland, a motherland, a mother tongue, a family, a home
a home that turned us out for who we were clinging desperately to a new ideology a new god you worship a new my patron gods are kali and ganesh like your parents’ were and i burn hell money for my dead none of which are related to any of us my whanaungatanga is nothing to do with who birthed me and everything to do with the people i grew from which is really the opposite of how the concept is used but whāngai means to feed and nurture and to foster and adopt and those children you feed are yours whether you had them or not and the people who fed me were never you pa you let mom starve us if we didn’t memorize bible verses and look where that got you three halfblood disabled queers later and maybe you two just shouldn’t have had kids to turn into grotesque renditions of everything you hate and everything they hate about you.
ONE i. ‘don’t cite wikipedia,’ the science teacher at my christian middle school tells us, ‘because wikipedia has a liberal bias.’ ‘truth has a liberal bias,’ a boy mutters from the back. ii. new zealand is not well-covered on wikipedia. there is no article on the man who wrote new zealand’s national anthem. i write one, and it is on the main page for a day. it is the first thing i write for the site. iii. somebody welcomes me, and links me wikipedia’s core policies. keeping a neutral point of view, or NPOV, for short, is one of them. what is a neutral point of view? the phrase explains little more than the acronym. does neutrality equal truth? does either have a liberal bias? iv. i find out i am trans on wikipedia. a friend’s userpage has a box that says they’re pansexual, and when i read the linked article i find out that pansexuality presumes gender diversity, and i find out who i am. i owe wikipedia my gender identity.
v. ‘don’t cite wikipedia,’ my junior biology teacher tells me. i hand in a paper with flawless citations that i publish on wikipedia itself out of sheer spite.
TWO vi. this is the easiest way to sum up what many wikipedians believe: truth has a liberal bias. truth does not have a liberal bias. it is different for each person, and the least-heard truths are not the liberal ones. vii. ‘liberal is a bad word over here,’ a singaporean friend tells me on skype. ‘singapore is well-loved by liberals,’ i say. ‘liberalism is well-loved in singapore only by boys with identity crises who turned to reddit as their savior,’ she sighs. ‘and to wikipedia?’ ‘and to wikipedia.’ viii. when chelsea manning comes out, her article sparks a bitter controversy that ends up taken to arbcom. the supreme court of wikipedia. i end up talking about it with friends, and one says ‘this is all too complicated for me,’ and leaves. i envy his detachment for a moment, then it blossoms into anger when i realize that he is a member of arbcom. i fear for chelsea’s article.
ix. gender is not well-covered on wikipedia. ‘so fix it,’ somebody tells me. ‘wikipedia is full of liberals who will revert my changes as not meeting NPOV,’ i reply. he responds with three letters: AGF. assume good faith, it means. another core policy. ‘i can’t, though i’ve tried,’ i tell him. he calls me a POV-pusher. somebody who is unable to abide by NPOV. it means i am a problem editor. x. ‘singapore is well-covered on wikipedia.’ ‘only the pretty parts.’
THREE xi. ‘don’t cite wikipedia,’ my gender studies professor tells me, and i understand why. xii. new zealand is not well-covered on wikipedia. there is no real article on douglas lilburn, perhaps our most important composer. there is no article on fitzgerald v muldoon, a case where our prime minister was ruled to have acted illegally. lilburn was queer, and muldoon never faced real consequences. xiii. he calls me a POV-pusher like it’s a bad thing. all it says about me is that i am somebody who wears their opinion on their sleeve. somebody who cares more about some truth than they care about wikipedia. i am not ashamed of that.
xiv. i fear for chelsea manning, and i fear for me, and i leave wikipedia rather than come out as trans.
FOUR xv. that pansexual friend later becomes a lover, so i owe wikipedia my partner, too. xvi. there was a wikipedia editor who signed their posts with ‘truth has a liberal bias’ in bright red. their userpage is as smug as you might imagine. for a moment, looking at it, i completely understand that a wikipedia administrator i once knew would want to vandalize the site as badly as possible in a final drive toward getting banned. xvii. ‘science is not neutral,’ i tell a lover. ‘science is the product of the biases of the scientists.’ ‘wikipedia thinks science is neutral,’ ze points out. i pause for a moment. ‘what does it mean that the world’s most ubiquitous, accessible information source is an aggregate that explicitly requires content to be supported by academia, flawed though that is?’
FIVE xviii. when i turn eighteen, a wikipedian friend tries to convince me that the way to fix the site’s systemic bias problem is to upload nudes of myself.
xix. ‘what does it mean,’ ze muses, ‘that the people who are best equipped to fight the hierarchical system of information distribution and the ways it perpetuates oppression are the ones so willing to preserve it?’
SIX xx. truth doesn’t have a liberal bias, but wikipedia does, and these days, who knows the difference?
I was dreaming of Kyle Secor naked when terrorists Flew an airplane full of people into the World Trade Center. I mistook the explosions for lightning ‘cause it had rained the night before. What the hell did I know about explosions Other than what I’ve seen in a Steven Seagal movie? Looked out the window in my underwear and R.E.M. Tee shirt to find people running out of nearby buildings, Down the streets of the Financial District like a herd of circus elephants. I thought nothing of it until my roommate Knocked on my double- room door Crying about six people dead, fifty in critical condition. Flipped on the TV Where news anchors were screaming, “A plane has crashed into the Twin Towers.” A cloud of debris fell over us. Could smell the blood of the Wall Street work force. I put on my jeans in fear of evacuation. The R.A. said we couldn’t leave our rooms until further notice. Stayed put until we were told to converge on the second floor. But I had not washed my face. My teeth weren’t brushed. Needed to put on some deodorant. Wanted my morning bowl of Rice Krispies. Walked into a cult of frightened freshmen Panicking in their pajama tops, Crouching in corners, crying on their cell phones To parents teddy bear hugs away. One of the buff security guards from downstairs, The one with the long eyelashes and ass fluffier than yeast rolls, Was covered in debris. The contractor assured us we were under a force field of safety. I wanted to change out of these clothes. Stood with my head held high while others sat scared On the floor biting their fingernails, eating Wheat Thins. “The other building is still on fire,” said a girl wearing an I Love New York tee shirt. I was told that we might have to run for cover to Marlton House Where the beds are screwed to the wall. Hope the men and women of FDNY are okay. NYPD blue to the rescue.
Hope the hospitals have enough blood. I would give them gallons, but I’m not sure if I’m disease free. I brought crackers just in case I couldn’t Get to a Burger King or a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Just in case I had to sleep on cots and eat hard bread. I didn’t want to leave my apartment Of hardwood floors, marble kitchen counters. My journals are up there. My milk is gonna spoil. The manager from Zetunda brought turkey and veggie sandwiches, Kiwi and strawberry slushies. A list was passed around asking those who wanted to stay to sign their names, And those who wanted to leave could hike up to 14th Street. It’s like winter outside, said the security guard With the buttermilk biscuit- ass. We stepped over shoes pulled off in a panic Making our way to the Graduate Faculty Building. Human Resources gave us security blankets and pillows. Some slept in the lounge, conference rooms, Others in ice- cold hallways, the floors Of classrooms watching John Waters’ Hairspray. We had full reign over the cafeteria: Eating barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese; Ham sandwiches and cold sodas for lunch Until we could be placed in alternative apartments. I could have called my aunt in Queens, but I didn’t Want to put her out. Slept on a dirty mattress in a Union Square apartment. Wanted to get out of those three- day clothes, Wanted to take a shower but their bathroom was filthy. There were pots in the sink with caked- on food around the rim. A dinner table of loose papers. I wasn’t used to this much filth. Finally called Aunt Karen and asked if I could stay with her. Gave my number to a big legged girl in housing where I could be reached. Seamus from 4C wasn’t sure if he was going to go home To Maine where he could play his guitar and eat vegan food Or stay and sleep, starving on a park bench. Andy’s mom freaked in Philadelphia. Bridgett from the 8th floor went back to New Jersey and became a prisoner in her own home. Her mother wouldn’t let her leave the house. I ate steak with yellow rice while watching destruction Replay on CNN. Slept like Snow White in my cousin’s twin bed beneath glow- in- the- dark stars
And an autographed N- Sync poster. Shaved my head in their blue bathroom. Returned to William Street eight days later where I was greeted by Cops and National Guards. Entered 4B wearing clean underwear to find dust on new poems, And the burgundy bedspread I’d purchased at Target. The cleaning crew threw out my milk. We were told not to use our air- conditioners until further notice. And here I am after sleeping on the floor, After being in the same clothes for three days, After spending the night, showerless on a dirty mattress, After getting the news that thousands were missing, And hundreds were found dead, After the candle lit vigils at fire stations, police stations, After hearing of Muslims being threatened in their driveways, After the news of the last dying words on black box recorders, After the Pentagon was left in ruin, After seeing pictures of employees in the pages of Newsweek jumping out of windows, After Bryant Gumble, Dan Rather, After Bush referring to Bin Laden as “Hate Monger,” “Evil Doer,” After hearing about New York Firemen, New York Police Saving mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives, After discovering that most of them lost their lives in the process of such bravery, After the Red Cross called for blood, After a generation of young people came to volunteer Bringing bottled water, work gloves, flashlights and food, After construction workers and search party dogs Endured scrapes, scratches and gashes, After the telethons, the victim relief funds, After the gathering of Hollywood stars and musicians, After the postings of missing loved ones have been taped on telephone Poles, brick walls, the windows of fast food joints, I still want a bowl of Rice Krispies.
I remember the night we met. It was at X-mart, this store that sold adult toys and videos. There was a sex arcade that had booths in the back where people could go to watch porn. I remember thinking that you were homeless walking in back with a very thick beard and cap pulled low on your head. I remember how sore my jaw was after sucking your dick in one of the booths. I remember us exchanging phone numbers in the parking lot. I remember not wanting to call you out of being afraid that you would want a repeat performance, and thinking that my jaw most likely would not hold out, but I called you anyway. I remember your dick growing to be very hard. I remember your silver PT Cruiser. I remember writing you love letters. I remember writing poems about you. I remember telling you that I was in love with you. I remember there was a time when you were all that I thought about. I remember sitting outside of your apartment building in hopes that I would catch a glimpse of you. I remember sneaking to the back of your apartment and peeking in through the sliding glass to watch you sleep. I remember buying you DVDâ€™s and clothes and giving you money. I remember seriously thinking about getting Property of Chris Rich tattooed on my arm, or my ass. I remember a Monday afternoon blow job. I remember giving you a blow job in my dadâ€™s truck. I remember your black leather sofas.
I remember your apartment on Chapel Drive never ever being clean. I remember that Dalmatian you had. I remember when you worked as a manager at Seminole Bowl. I remember bringing you lunch to work. I remember sitting in the parking lot waiting to pick you up. I remember how handsome you looked in a gray suit. I remember thinking that I would do anything for you. I remember wanting to kiss you. I remember giving you a blow job as you drove my car back to your parents’ house from WalMart. When I tried to sit up out of your lap, you said, “No, stay down, someone is coming.” I remember the hair on your back that grew in patches. I remember you telling me that you didn’t like soul food. I remember putting way too much oil on popcorn that day we went to the movies. I remember you telling me that you wished we had become friends first before ever doing anything sexual. I remember when we went joyriding while we got drunk off Crown Royal. I remember us eating hot wings and drinking beer at BW3’s. I remember how annoyed I would get when you would strike up a conversation with a complete stranger in the bar about baseball or basketball. I remember giving you car head in your parents’ driveway. I remember your large collection of porn. I remember blowing you in your parents’ living room. You stripped naked and slipped in one of the porn DVD’s I brought. I remember when the girlfriend called. I thought how ballsy you were for talking to her as I blew you.
I remember not being very interested when you went on and on about your oral sex skills on women. I remember asking you who gave the best blow jobs, me or the girlfriend. I remember sending you several text messages a day. I remember calling and always getting your voicemail. I remember after every argument we had, saying that I would never talk to you again, yet I never stuck to that. I remember in instance where I cried on the phone when you told me that you didn’t want to talk to me anymore because the girlfriend was getting jealous and angry. I remember you referring to semen as “nut.” I remember jacking off as I thought of your dick. I remember swallowing your nut. I remember when you told me you won ninety dollars playing scratch-offs. I remember leaving a note on the windshield of your car. I remember giving you a copy of a story I wrote about you. When you told me that your girlfriend found it, you blamed me. I remember getting a phone call from a bails bondsman telling me that you were in jail and you wanted to see me. I remember how the lobby of the jail smelled faintly of bleach and feet. I remember going to visit you every day until you told me that I didn’t need to come every day. I remember that awful blue and white uniform you had to wear and the white plastic sandals. I remember wanting to give you everything. I remember feeling that you were using me, but I didn’t much care. I remember wondering for so long what the girlfriend looked like and when I found out, I couldn’t understand what you saw in her. I remember you living out of a motel. You refused to pay rent because the landlord said he wouldn’t replace the carpet after a toilet pipe burst.
I remember fly paper that hung from the ceiling of your bedroom. I remember the girlfriend refusing to visit you when you were locked up. I remember thinking how brave you were for deciding to do jail time instead of being on probation. I remember how angry I was that night I saw those two girls follow you into your apartment one late Friday night. You later told me that one of them blew you while the other one ended up passing out. I remember you telling me to calm down. I remember wondering why you never called the cops once you figured out that I was stalking you. I remember getting French Silk chocolate ice cream on my shirt after we went out for ice cream. I remember how warm your hips felt. I remember how hairy your ass felt. I remember you telling me that you were in high school when you began messing around with guys. I remember you telling me that you were more attracted to Kelly Rowland over BeyoncĂŠ. I remember being quite desperate to have sex with you. You were always coming up with excuses. I remember realizing that you were a complete sociopath. I remember sometimes being repulsed by you. I remember your girlfriend texting me pretending to be you. I remember seeing your dad and thinking that you look exactly like him. I remember wondering if your dad was just as well-endowed as you. I remember your dad being a total DILF. (Dad Iâ€™d Like to Fuck.) I remember the only time we could hang out was when the girlfriend was out of town. I remember your momâ€™s green minivan.
I remember your dadâ€™s old Ford truck. I remember the long rides out to your parentsâ€™ house. I remember after years of being in love with you and obsessing, I had finally snapped out of it.
For Todd After reading Todd’s poetry, I rolled over and fell right to sleep, but I don’t consider that a bad thing. His poems were so damn good they just plumb tuckered me out. I couldn’t sit through another page without feeling the heaviness of eyelids shutting like the steel cage going down on the windows of a Korean convenience store. The day spanks my ass with the hand of heat. The coughing continues like daytime soaps. It’s a splitting headache, but I go on writing love poems about men I cannot have, knowing that if he saw things my way, we would be perfect together. This is no obsession. I am not camped out behind some car in front of apartment H-5 waiting to pounce on him to confess my love as he holds two dark bags of trash in each hand after dinner. This is better than making obscene phone calls and hanging up. Reading your poems is like possessing a rock star’s sweaty underwear, holding it up to my open mouth and squeezing out the very essence of you in my body. Now I have a part of you inside me, if nothing else.
if i tattooed every moving line of poetry iâ€™ve ever read on my skin words would be my exoskeleton the pain of the ink would go away as i became an encyclopedia of distress and yearning people would see me for who i truly am new and selected poems without consonants is more beautiful than without vowels but living with is more beautiful than without
Writing con ojos de las poesĂas, words created by el rey lagartija, domina la oscuridad, calling con voces songs iluminado la noche de cantos, echoes enumerando con lenguas de visionarias, awakening voices culminado en ritmos, microphone like matches encendido el cuerpo always entrancing bodies con el sol writhing in Mexico City.
Waking up with my eyelashes in an orgy of confused prison bars/doused with red wine/faking my yawn/rubbing both thighs as if the fat pouches would burst & you won’t notice the wrinkled shame on either side of my clit/you gotta love those puppy cheeks! barbie shaves every gender benign hair/so a whore’s be me, be my every sore fisted mouth in deep!/deep neutral hatred of calves/strut like a chicago pigeon/apple?/I don’t know, I’ve never been to chicago!/I will go once my remaining poser qualities are exhumed from under the nunnery hat/yeah I spent some time collecting fishes in toilets/why gag?/because all sorts of omegas are cool & non bubbly/so arms be last on the list of inflated forks that puncture your eyes/my eyes are fine, protected by the orgy/which seems to be growing mold of sorts/maybe it’ll burst/just as/like my thighs on the floor board. So wake up & with me/with you/all my flaws are our linen/sheets/that inhale/they reek to/cover your tiny embrace.
If Iâ€™m small enough, I can fit in your pocket Like a heart. You always want to Carry me with you, wherever you go. I sometimes know why; I never know how. Sometimes I wish you could ignore me, Let me sink in your pocket like so much loose change Until you find a different me, wadded, Easier to handle, in your clean laundry, But hearts have a habit of beating And I, too, have a habit of making noise, However often I try to clean my mouth out With detergent and blankets and blood. You dry me next to you and tell Me how my heart can beat again.
the hammock lies with me and musky green forest storm, i inhale your chaotic wind walking through castles of golden spoon grin my silver spoon suffering, i dream of violet genesis wake me when roses char ashing petal drifting into my hot sauna godforsaken skull brittle bone, fleshy
stomach full of rice.
The deserted playground when I was six was only phantom feeling. You and your friends swarmed like white pigeons scavenging for bread. I sat seiza on the grass waiting for you staring as growth rings formed. Ten years late our bodies lay on the same grass speaking orange dreams. This is what it means to stay here; you would say something romantic: / I am your river, you are my ocean there is nothing that can stand between us / / land everywhere before time stood between us / The stars I gazed at laying on the roundabout last night are still colorless.
after an evening out in Houstonâ€™s Fifth Ward If all you know is purple pain All you know is purple pain killer; Its back beat gives the gossip A lyric touch by hook and filler; Bounce out the doldrums, dead the feud, Come bass-burn, crawling, chopped and screwed.
Uncovered sky sifts sunshine over home Then cloud-clapped, offers equal time to rain. Bubbles full of water plash our heads And thunder grumbles “Veni! Pax tecum!” It teases underfoot, this new found rock, From pate to toe wash blessings of return. Ants in their loamy groovelets turn by turn Take all our scraps of excess safely home— Unbroken trail through wood and grass and rock, Their industry impervious to rain; A million zero voices bid me come To join in labors for the days ahead. And later, vaulted layers overhead Are green and green, and color in its turn. The palette spreads the light that I’ve become Bedecked by this grand halo I call home— Sun through leaf gaps—bright stars of my reign— And roots in framework serve foundation rock. While church bells peal competing claim to rock, Deacons bargain loudly—coins marked godhead— Saying they smell sulphur even in the rain And press me to the bowl to take my turn. No thanks! I have a monstrous feast at home. No snacking now the prix fixe meal has come. It’s thunder once again. It beckons: Come! While lightning makes a papered ghost of rock; I’m back in bush, summarily at home; Drops settled in a pattern on my head. The moment is upon me as I turn Into a lifetime sacerdote of rain. And bodies massed around me in the rain— The crowd supports me, blasted, overcome; Our feet beat involuntary patterns In unison, yoked at the breath, we rock, No music at my ears but in my head. The chorus: “Long he wandered, now he’s home.” I dedicate returning to the rains, This home I claim for scions yet to come: Rock of Ages settled at the well-head.
here, is where no vale nada la vida, ladies and gents, rooster lungs Jose Alfredo sang it, so it must be true, we take our ranchero poets seriously, they know a thing or two, but if life is worth nothing, death must have a value, Between 1865 and 1958 a grave tax cost the rich 170 pesos all at once, and the poor who could not afford it, 50 pesos a year to keep their loved ones buried. They are the accidentally calcified Guanajuato mommias on display. Here, the value of death is a museum admission, 50 pesos, to see the poor bodies, bodies of the poor that could not pay for a grave.
Both our pansas son verdes, real green, real mean, sister mine, our skins are thick, because yes, the men where we’re from were leatherworkers, and they treated hides with big bellies hanging over, the sites of daily chemical spills, they toughened their own cuero so some vaquero could look chingón for the ladies holsters, saddles, boots, belts, todo de piel. Our bellies are green, real mean, sister mine. Our skins are thick, yes, we too toughened our cuero, just to keep this hide our own, when our fathers wanted sons, because viejas belong to men, another accessory de piel, we are cowboys sometimes, we are chemical spills, but we are never ladies, and so, we find, we must patch ourselves up.
I When the morning departs It slips under the awning Of the mahogany door. Listlessly breaks under the cracked whip Attempting to contort its body And she can feel the sensation Of her flesh being stripped away From every creviced pore. Every bone in her rib cage Reticent and malleable Purging itself into the formation Of the land. She is an empire unto herself. Momentâ€™s falling into each other like a deck of cards. Still this silence is the immaculate portrait of surrender. Its beauty found only once the light has permeated its existence. Her lips lie dormant A mere proclamation For memories That seemed to assail her. Still she is thirsty. Parched from ten years Of pure unadulterated decadence Panders away at memories, Digging through the unmarked graves Of the past How each stone, Lay upon the porthole. Lucid paths leading to rooms Where she no longer wished to walk. Her name, Her image Her spirit Left there languished there
But this emotion Is little more than the hand of death And all the ways Life prepared a gourmet meal for her Made only from the remnants Of her scorched faith. And she remembers At night when she lays down to sleep She can feel the universe coerce her Into a state of retribution. Her nudity that of a lantern Held against the eastern sky Still her heart sinks Into the endless pit of her consciousness That last life line While her thoughts wander Into the shell shocked Decrepit cell of civility. And they are chanting her name She remembers home. White shuttered house At the edge of the street, Peering out across valley. Childhood marred through the flickering Lights of the stars That seems to habitually Reek of condemnation. As a girl She stood atop the hill And felt rain press itself Clinging onto her skin And she loved With all the passion Of a flame whose sobriety Could not quelch its heated fury. This was the land of opportunity and she was merely a patron Told to hold onto her dreams with all the reverence that she alone could muster and she did.
II These days the sky is marred With painted affliction. The earth a shallow tomb That has made a debauchery Of these unbound inclinations And they dance often, Sail across every crevice of the mind. The contingency of the heart Wrestling these tainted Thoughts into submission. For what can be said For the stringent longing That has seemingly plummeted Through her chest. What bells could ever toll The mellifluousness of a melancholy Tune into joyful apparition? Would deception and Honesty Ever mingle into obscurity, Creating philosophical temptation From the cauldron of meticulous propriety? She ponders these questions with indifference. But these mornings leave her breathless, Clutching to the throes of desire, And she waits here, Remembering a time When motherâ€™s hands would hold her And fatherâ€™s eyes would gaze upon her With unparalleled affection. Little girl swept along with the tide And a house overflowing with Something more divine Than mere joy. These hallowed steps leading to childhood. And girlhood. How hands held hers Music filling every room with supremacy The simplicity of a red balloon Floating up to the precipice of heaven. Summer afternoons spent Lying in the grass Gazing into her reflection by the riverbank
Sometimes she inclines her ear into the distance And she can still smell the warmth of the sun. But these days Have vanished Eulogized by her mere remembrance of them And how they consist of little But the dark shadow That has plastered And laced them Under the tide Of her severed heart.
III She thinks of this often. Brings herself to the fountain Lips parched for more Than the swirling liquid That has resigned itself There. Throwing breaths into the stream Like every expulsion of air Is a penny With all the hope that she will retrieve Bits and pieces Of her reflected dissidence. Some days she can hear The ground shrieking Its long winded obituary Thrusting its vindictive obtrusiveness Against her confidence She knows this all too well And yet has not mastered the art Of indulgence. She simply unfolds this weight Planting the seed of indifference Into the soil. And she will wait there. Puts her lips to the ground As if to say that this is time. With all of its agony and inconsistency. She has buried the mirror, Lacerated its glassy surface into A multitude of interloping lines. Aware that she has already begun to wither Like the last leaf on the outstretched branch, Just before the onslaught of winter.
Still she smiled this morning, Felt her lips crease into that unfamiliar expression Its brevity, unfathomable. The rain fell this morning for the first time And she felt it. Her skin glistened under its cool facade A reminder that even a parched soul Can still blossom in the wilderness Its eminence, made manifest Against its volatile expulsion. Most nights you will find her Lost under a sea of blankets, Every wrinkle on her chest A constricted passage of time And an incandescent mausoleum A simple mantra To a contrived symposium Of abandon
this unmade bed puts in another notch your love poem falls out of love with love the rifts could warn the flesh you ought to live longer in this planet because you like this poem her mother and i were meant for each other the yellow one with the blue lines they caroused in a sanctuary did go nuts tiptoed into complication got thrown off his game you expect it in pieces and grace how do you know that what you are looking for is not also looking for you
donâ€™t expect to be praised every time you raise a middle finger detonator where an ending meets a beginning thereâ€™s no way around it you are busy modulating retractions this silence is curved it is a road friendship tripping over us keeping us informed you suspect these constants are disguises desk hangar
words as doors as if they had been expecting you a perfect pitch does not always deal with basics the ruination of the tango to indulge every impulse and head for deadends all-nighter with a porn star tell me youâ€™ve got my back give me a moment to zoom in on the data each lunacy is there to be spent when the sun became needy i sent him a mail
he is hanging on to the gun she is wearing on her hip saying you don’t need it she says i need it i need it i see our names in lights so not everyone is against us not everything is against us & the way we get by melismatic & perilous to taint the Palladium anyhow an open drawer a vanishing lawyer poetry is not all in the head less resignation more bite you lash out as only someone who really cares can Angela Davis Elaine Brown Barbara Easley Kathleen Neal Carver when you’re up you’re always up every step’s a parallax the metronome comes & goes behind & in front of beggars of light sweat of the plot change the picket fence the barricade generous till it hurts where lives cling to silhouettes
Here my country is the horror of your misfortune that built your fame and insane notion that your greatness must be retained by force of the world bank banking away your soul here my might of American light lit in regurgitation of the common way the smelling of your soul brought and sold on paper as Paul peepbo pup to mount and mold here the heart the living liver lives as something of whom the hell of heavenly earth we be my American might your American push the fight the fits the found full is putting the pull into it like living in the America that I made when it made me I am the American man I make the male modernistic mist of force the man made mindful of profit like it was the key to who I be Americans are cool kept words of God all mighty gone to the longest grave I have ever seen in its wake I have seen America to me as threats to ourselves our sight cool like blue vengeance bit load on the worldâ€™s stage load like pricking drunken specks of deliriums infesting our skin like slums grown as chill bumps on the skin of the sky
in our laughter is the crimes of our breath our spoken opened sores of our words to wound ourselves my taste of us is the aftertaste of tom-tom’s tones in St. Louis hidden under silent mounds it’s the dusk of Boston on the wind like brick power killing time and Annabelle Lee’s lines like being many a many meaty years ago in that kingdom by the free that never be or never more be we in the perpetual war within our America still bleeds bitter by the liver last lust for shared life liver lust its life dwelling like grills uphold load of laughter listen to the tones told by music of the American’s soul heard men old as age and unsung sage Andy, Andy closing the sounds said in words fresh on his tongue Andy of the skill still the flute version breathe on and on my mannish moves my marchionesses manliness on her my boyish ways bull me black into a new Negro-Colored-Afro attack America of Americas who first beached your shores and how come the came the Negro skulls south of the boarder? America is divorced from herself hid hinged and hung like hired hind quarter hence ways huge on holding hard her women fold boundaries to hold her women-self down, down done and told to stay by men of might and little outs to control the woman folks fine as they be of mind and souls willful women who woo the child in men who will weak in their hands
and so as said he distrust their power to make us men of the half of women nature is no bitch but she bites right out in the open men want to control women when other men control them it is the coward’s way out it is misplaced revenge on our kind the woman kind the kick in the belly of time thine as woo that weeps to see the sights seen in silent and sanity passing as songs of the American’s soul will we why our singing along men fear women for we fear her being needed for birth as she is the door from which souls are born and souls are enduring things that comes through the door the flesh sweet as to tear a drip heavy its heal held lust for life America’s tree mingles mud with childhood and feather the plumes stuffed good with curiosity of constitution’s tapeworms tasting of weariness on the cerebral tongue America muscular in your adolescent tender to talk without action played your founding contour fades away fathers who knew are summer in their graves and anhydride hand preach your days the halo is fake of promises still untold the scarlet letter do not speck for God mosey Moby is bought and sold to japan’s soul founders of our present precipices are incendiaries adored deliberate encrusted severs seen in ink like narrow ice of nights and raped silents purulence putted off the edge as transparent hours hidden in hind sight fattened by points and dancing morrows made from the mirror’s marrow of the moon’s madness of violent kept tight in our jostles jostless drinks we American we rotates of appeasement of carboniferous aquiferous fit to fix the found wisdom caught after being cubed and bobbins hard as unalterable spiders of lunatics lamination and lips of lisping long in the loud load the wreckage dry docked on hours long in the tooth as weather is worn thin in the throat caught like lisps of lies self told self assured lies tall as tellings told
the raw palanquins of phlegm that is not the lisperâ€™s trade or dog edge of our days and mannish ways we Americans knives as deadly as healthy in its referendum we be foolish men meek meat of violence willing wars as cause of our controlled control male minds means much of more and explore the exploitation of all things seen new we screw ourselves just to rub against a table leg and pop our load of nutted profit o the stone heads knew that they would outlive the dark carver and still be new when man by male make can not stair into the eyes of the truth as hard as old stone carved before writing knew it could survive The planetary music linger long and last a lick in tune its tongue never tire of gloomy olds to be new again against the caterpillars hard at work weaving the thin mufti-eyed time and dust is caught in the blood and the star dusk that I doubt weary is the vine that climbs the chain link jostles the rotate of earth so far as fair skin wisdom buoy who we pretend to be glassy gestures cracks and tighten the guarded grip that time ordain as duty to it as origin of the original eye coral lines of plastic might murk its stink its depth deeply down done like venture capitalistâ€™s crimes committed with an enormous embraces for greed and T V is the fissile tin-pot as time in its true tellings small specks of America
grown like cities sat in concretes and windows stone let us pulse and check ourselves like checking the check for the bill time is the fissile tinkly as time in its true telling small crime of vengeance grown like cities sat in concrete and windows gone let us pause and check ourselves like checking our time on earth like looking at the money and loss any long gone of the Americanâ€™s soul what searing search through the dust this sorceryâ€™s saint what art this be by the height of God given grace to us to me the trinity of self of being an American in a sea of the cosmos that be the small birth of who we be weary is the vine that climb the chain link The vine of being black The vine of our first woman folk and men The vine of being guardian of the original human gene This Black you and black me Uncle Charlie sung it true The vine of the Blues The vain, the plumb, the hard Ass life of us as USA Fully in our blood jostles the rotate of earth we people of the bitten bite that first took our life with its slavish slaveries of selves so far as fair skin wisdom buoy who we pretends to be glassy gestures cracks and tighten the guarded grip that time ordains as duty to it as origin of the original eye core lines of plasticâ€™s might march
its sinking stingy stink its depth done like venture capitalistâ€™ crimes committed with an enormous embrace for greed and T V the tube gone like glass the tube swamping and sunken in stink that stalks what is permitted for profit well I know the toll of truth to tell is to tire out of listening still poets tell the soil still the tones talks it out to tell my America well the truth that sets free the soul to soil sluice your poets of words slip put poets still fake planetary of paradise are dead the nigromancyes nights of circulate cavalier cavalcadic creative cadaver is edible to taste eat America like eating space absence primogenital scars known to man comb the scent from the voices of the children anecdotal we spurt surges ramparts last light gleaming like dead birds of our science transmutations of playing God with a girlish glint in our boyish smile rebel the forgetful birth sudden your gestures of guilty guilt erect like passing time like pissing rimes in flicks and starts and stops exuberant to be alive as American made and raised and modesty of being the black sheep that always leads Black folks made me America miss-raised me the black ribald spirituality of emotional life the gay guide denied and deadbeat death bed without honor for God gave to love less defensive our am-bisexual monastic lust of the tongue the enjoyment that reveals the homosexual birth of the Gods the self fuck of specking in tongue the hip hypocrites of modern man killing Ganymede because of the action of the eagle clerics lost to celibacy inconstant to
cactus Celt aroris opus of us as U S A the literal error of self as wounded man denying my brothers of the blood line of first black man as mankind inventor of all manly things as we of the first flesh-fruit from the tree man the pagan God that he be as we of the circumcised suggestion enforced by guilty sodomy my pleasure my sweat of man my baptismal marriage as primary among men we men crusade our way through taboos and violate them too as the hip sexual thing to do we men sing the blood of circumcision of virgins holy as Mary or Mary man of the mass who wears dresses in church we match jealousies to Godâ€™s grace and allow ourselves to hate not the hate but the wait it take to work we women who woo life into being we mothers of the KKK and woman of might to get it right and real like railing our heads over man made wars willing to kill the sons and dear daughters of birth we testicles of appeals and foreskin behaviors we penance of pretends of habitual lies we cry in front of our women we weep to be less men in out animosity of wants the nights are lit on the corner the irrepressible vigorous anger perforate the American source of we the drifting worn wood naked as collapsed cinders afraid to catch light there is an insolence in our opened tomb a discontent of tongues a tutelary of cetaceans u-alistic of all kinds ritualistic racism that the faith informs fate and climate the eyes Some use fate as catch all there is told the propaganda that is not history told as not Ceylon jungle-ass a grown condemned Tidore a nonsense of nocturnal nascence snapping like light on then gone to dreams of greedy flicks on the inner lids of our eyes Gods spy their spies
and permit our crimes of the soil our liquid leaking of ourselves legal as money in the our of ourselves we sell horizons of democracy but never did we live the dream in flesh as I my distance Brazil the paradise embedded in the blood of my skill farrow under the fields of the heaven in your head dig deep to weed and reap America that still reaches for the reels and reeks to feel as one with distance and thought and skills full of doubts of cause and recaptured re-causes held as habits hard as to suffer no cracks in the American way or cutterâ€™s blade the millstone is yours to sharpen ferocious of ferocious to trying and try to never try to get it wrong as to take the sound and not the song singing swing in swears and cuss words like living languages do we readjust the assaulting assurances of our cause to be our America to me we American along as lived beauty bold America will torch the tones told in tongues scars by racism strong as the American way to belong as an American the never perturbed perpetrated of the perpetual war goes on the hiccup is included and necessary to the soul as the body is to being a thing of self in security and mind the feverish pitch of our pinch must be strong to check ourselves the Godâ€™s riches buys slim juices disdain when god is the riches that sings our fame and I hear Andy, Andy who sliced open his closement to let America in
then ate her birth sack as his first American nutriment and I hear Padma who saves the pits and grows a new America with the lost art of the collection and building with sticks and the tongue of Ann is talking tall as timeâ€™s ambassador to the human sane that life like life along is the willful giving of all that makes us strong the Mark voices are there mocked to minimize their might of words that kills ingrained ignorance grips tight like tight got the grip that Americans only own on America as us this us of the we of flesh and cells sold for salt and self I hear the voices of artiest who tends to the wellness of our American soul who decorates our boils with paintings and poems and O America Of the bent beauty o promises of seeds and pits and opening in thought and cracked opening in the sky openings of tall talk and guarded grips grand as rocks the size of the Rockies and stainless steel legs of westward push to pin the pine down and plant pine lawn in the mist of our destruction to build a people as guardian of God the native of our ways will never die till America is dead down in the ancestry grave of our selling ourselves to the highest medieval thought of our enemies of our nuances the land, the land, the land is all that must survive the suicide the kill of our skill to make the Constitution flesh and skin.
Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is a poet who is currently enrolled in the MFA graduate program at Antioch University in Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and their cat Woody Gold. His poetry has been featured in The Yellow Chair Review, Thick with Conviction, and Silver Birch Press, and one of his poems was named Cultured Vultures’ Top 3 Poems of the Week. You can connect with Adrian on his website: http://www.adrianernestocepeda.com/ Ajise Vincent is a Nigerian poet. His poem “Song of a Progeny” was a shortlisted poem at the Korea-Nigeria Poetry Feast 2015. His works have been published in London Grip, Kalahari Review, Sankofa Magazine, AfricanWriter, Indian Periodical, Social Justice Poetry, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Afrikana.ng, Poetry Pacific, The Poet Community, Whispers, Commonline Journal, Novel Afrique, Black Boy Review, Tuck Magazine, and various literary outlets. He is currently finishing up a major in Economics at the University. Barbara Ruth is Potowatomee, Ashkenazi Jewish, Welch and possibly Blackfoot. She is a disabled old lesbian living in San Jose, CA. Her photography, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, as well as poetry, has appeared in many anthologies and online and print publications, including Zoomoozophone Review. Tenaciously, Bob McNeil tries to compose poetic stun guns and Tasers, weapons for the downtrodden in their effort to trounce oppression. His verses want to be fortresses against despotic politics. After years of being a professional illustrator, spoken word artist, and writer, Bob still wants his work to express one cause—justice. David e. Patton lives in his home city of St. Louis. He studied poetry with Allen Ginsburg & the Beat Poets in the early 80s at Naropa University. Mr. Patton has published 4 books of poetry & is a member of the artist collective Turkey Buzzard Press. http://www.turkeybuzzardpress.org/ Ebony Stewart is all things black, woman, and magic. Published author, touring performance arts poet, and sexual health educator. Writing because she has to and eating cupcakes for fun. Jennifer Patiño is a Mexican-American poet and essayist who grew up on the Southwest Side of Chicago. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Art History and dual minors in Poetry and Latino Studies. She is Director of Development at Sixty Inches From Center and a regular contributor at Gozamos. kiran anthony foster is 148 centimetres of mixed-race intersex tpoc migrant liminal everything. when not wading in or out of massively traumatic events, sometimes involving the fbi, the singaporean military, or international pedophile rings, they spend their time retelling them as flippantly as possible, as they have here.
Kou Sugita is a young writer living in Los Angeles, CA. He was born in Sapporo, Japan. He has a poem published in Zoomoozophone Review, which was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology 2014. He is also a recipient of a Vachel Lindsay Prize for Poetry from Hiram College in 2014. Sugita is currently a senior at Pitzer College, and is interested in writing about his racial and socio-economic identities. Kushal Poddar has been widely published in several countries and prestigious anthologies including Men in the Company of Women, Penn International MK, etc.; been featured in various radio programs in Canada and the USA; and collaborated with photographers for an exhibition at Venice and with performers for several audio publications. He is a lawyer and an English teacher presently living at Kolkata, writing poetry and fiction, and sketching for an art-poem book. He authored The Circus Came to My Island (Spare Change Press, Ohio) and A Place for Your Ghost Animals (Ripple Effect Publications, Colorado Springs), and his forthcoming book is Understanding the Neighborhood. Maria Ng is a New Yorker that lives in New Jersey. She has been published in little e-zines such as Paper Crown Magazine and Rasasvada. Her real name sounds like a sexual innuendo if you say it wrong. Melodic Rose is a spoken word artist from Montreal. She has written poetry for 15 years. She believes that poetry should be a transcendent experience. That true poetry comes from artistic and emotional vulnerability and at the heart of it, should reflect the distinct voices and nuances of the human experience. Melodic Rose hopes to reflect this philosophy through her work, by producing art that is unbound by the confines of race, gender, or political affiliation but will continue to challenge and inspire others to live with complete authenticity. Her poem “Revolution and Sanctum” was published by Poetic Matrix. “A 2015 Media Portrayal for Vincent Van Gogh” was also published by On the Grid (an online zine dedicated to Mental Health). Her latest poem “Resistance” was accepted by Drunk Monkey Press and will be released in 2016. Nooks Krannie likes people and kindness; sometimes people are not kind and that is sad but also life. She’s half Persian/half Palestinian. She grew up in an orphanage place in Vancouver, BC. She likes being called Nooks. She likes to write words and wants people to read them. Sade Murphy is a poet and artist from Houston, TX. Sade is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, the author of Dream Machine (co-im-press, 2014), and a columnist at Real Pants (Lonely Britches and What’s the Tea). They are pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Activism at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. They are the current chapbooks editor for Horseless Press and co-curate a reading series held at Pete’s Candy Store. Sandow Sinai is a Maryland-based mixed-race transgender musician and poet. They have performed since the second grade and release music as Spoon! the Bard at soundcloud.com/aspoonybard. They have never really submitted poetry anywhere before and are very nervous about it.
Sebastián Maldonado-Vélez is a Puerto Rican poet currently attending Truman State University. They are a junior in the Creative Writing BFA program. Usually finds themselves in between here and there, usually there though. Shane Allison has had poems published in Zoomoozophone Review, West Wind Review, Puerto Del Sol, Fence, and others. His debut novel You’re the One That I Want is due out next year from Strebor Books. He is working on a new poetry collection and novel. Sydney Tayler Colbert is an artist and writer from Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing creative non-fiction and poetry. Colbert is interested in issues of identity, spirituality, and self-perception as it pertains to the experiences of Black girls and women in today’s society. Tomi Nova is a black agender artist who does mostly original work. They have been drawing for over 15 years and take great pride in their work, and are glad to share it with fellow artists of color in this online zine. Uche Nduka is a Nigerian-American poet and collagist. His recent books include Heart’s Field, eel on reef, Ijele, Nine East. Some of his writings have been translated into German, Dutch, Romanian, Serbo-Croat, Spanish, Italian, French. He presently lives in New York City and teaches at CUNY. Uche Ogbuji was born in Calabar, Nigeria. He lived, among other places, in Egypt and England before settling near Boulder, Colorado. A computer engineer and entrepreneur by trade, his poetry chapbook Ndewo, Colorado (Aldrich Press, 2013) is a Colorado Book Award Winner, and a Westword 2015 Award Winner (“Best Environmental Poetry”). His poems, published worldwide, fuse Igbo culture, European classicism, American Mountain West setting, and hip hop influences. He is editor at Kin Poetry Journal, founding poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown, and runs the @ColoradoPoetry Twitter project. Ye Min was born in Burma, lives in the U.K., trained and worked as a special needs teacher, and is now a dramatherapist. Ye Min writes poems and has completed a fictional book about regime change in Burma and one about bereavement.
Contributors: Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, Ajise Vincent, Barbara Ruth, Bob McNeil, David e. Patton, Ebony Stewart, Jennifer Patiño, kiran anthony...
Published on Oct 8, 2015
Contributors: Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, Ajise Vincent, Barbara Ruth, Bob McNeil, David e. Patton, Ebony Stewart, Jennifer Patiño, kiran anthony...