I have to unlearn
my 23 years for the other 50
and exorcise the demons that shriek
when your holy water kisses taste me.
So when your eyes don’t lie
when you’re beside me
and your tongue never bites-
I’ve held roses tighter than crucifixes-
My calloused hands sometimes
snapped the subtle stems.
Your rosemary hands have done nothing
but season me, but I’m accustomed to being tossed
to dogs, and I can’t believe that I believe
that history didn’t repeat, and I belong.
While unlearning, I learned love’s not
like a plant or a thing
with feathers to check for dirt
or flight. It never leaves;
It never returns.
I slit the seams and slide
along the legs I called my own
(when I lived between them)
and claw and pinch the hairs I find
so you keep me in mind.
I cling to the pores
and inhale until I pass out-
But there I am, burning
a hole in your pocket.
I climb out and hang
by the jaded thread and wait
for you to take it off
and find me as I’ve wanted you-
And after fucking about like the ends
of worlds both past and present, and nothing
but eyes to fall back into until we
drown, we laugh at the delirious beasts
that possessed us but held off for so long.
Not one thing between us were spared, but all
were laid bare. The night was our reporter
off the books ‘til the sky told our tale by
light blue and blushed by sunrise, matching your
flushed face— the rest of you rested on me.
When the sun sheds light on what’s left of us
we marvel at what stone eyes missed but hands
read in fluent braille. We find that nothing’s
left to soak in but each other in day
and relish in color what charged the dark.
where friends and lovers and
friends that wanna be
lovers and everything
between dance in the
nuance before mourning.
where you first learn to
touch ‘em right before you
fuck ‘em right. Where you
practice patience and presence
in clothes but naked
whispers in the dark.
where you leap into
the void and hope to
land hand in hand
in finally good timing
after all the bad.
where you air it out
and let the skirts twirl
or let them lie
where they may or on the
bedroom floor if you will.
where forever lasts the night
and the nights as long
as forever like a hand
on the small of her
I thought love lived in Technicolor
and I scuttled in its shadows
mocking the figures out of comprehension.
I howled in the cavern to scare and let
the lack of love gnaw at my sides. I figured
I’d howl the hunger out and let the world
drop dead or whittle away.
The howls beckoned lack to leave like an exorcist,
but raw need needling emaciated mass remained.
When I listened, the cries beckoned me out.
“Did you not hear my warning cries?” I said sun-swallowed
blind out the cave. The familiar shrieks that I held as my own
carried me though bushes of unseen green and red I only saw
when curled on earth.
“I scream to seek, and I heard you in kind,” she said as we embraced
like electricity through water. Then I learned love was not Technicolor;
it was living color.
I don’t know why, but I’m always amazed at the backbreaking mental gymnastics Americans do from admonishing to admiring (Black) icons that didn’t want our damn approval anyway. They had to lead us to water we so desperately needed to realize our dumb ways. Even then…obviously so much more to learn and unlearn. He existed and excelled with or without our permission, or even in spite of it.
Muhammed Ali was the outspoken man you couldn’t ignore, and you didn’t want to really. The typical narrative we provide is a great man that accomplished great things, “ruffled some feathers” and became great in spite of everything against him. What was against him? We were. Everyone willing, complicit and content to live in an America with systemic racism. We were his biggest enemy. His existence was resistance. It is damn admirable to live in spite of what was expected or wanted of you and to be perpetually you. And we’re all a little more aware because of him. I usually stay away from obituary statuses because they read redundant, but I couldn’t shy away from the greatest.
I see all my starlight loves
and false remnants burn
in present memory and carve
my bones until hollow and done.
I make out every constellation and recall
the bodies and beings you warmed
before, during, after and in spite of all
hot, hot breath and cool, cool words.
Like the constellations dictate,
I watch you twinkle from afar
and marvel at our state
until I or your light give out.
with the window half open
and sweet summer sunset cicadas
reporting a day so spent
you can tolerate laugh tracks.
She holds it with her right
and stretches with her left
like when she shopped
and she reached for the finest
top shelf tea, and her shirt
curtained up but left
the rest to my dirty tricks.
And then I left
dick and night half mast
feeling you like a phantom
limb. I flicked your lust
off like embers and wore
your love like a smoker’s overcoat.