Found.

We waited an hour for the food. The rice came dripping with gravy, heavy and sweaty from days of traveling. It tasted like a bowl of batteries. Remember when we thought we could charge them in the refrigerator? Was that just me? Divorced parents. Daddy took us to the toy store, but always never bought the batteries. Mommy was too busy making sure we didn’t wake her dog to get any. It’s one of those things that gets overlooked when you’re poor-ish and stressed out and making sure your kids look neat for the next trip to the immigration lawyer. Ornery West Indians think they are better than regular black folk, like their shackles were made of different materials. I almost laughed at that. Mountain mulattoes, fancy accents, Chinese last names. But like me, they can’t cook rice.

toomer and tumors

Reading Jean Toomer thinking about the dense dumplings thumping around in my uterus. I imagine them meeting, kissing, touching, becoming one. A uterine lining lava lamp! They say my uterus is oversized. Should be the size the size of my fist, but mine is much larger, It is a militant uterus. Ready for war, ready to fight, ready for conception. But somehow it always ejects the fetus. That girl is just as confused as the rest of us. Some say women get fibroids because the uterus just wants to be full with something. Don’t we all? “African-American women (which I am not, by definition), tend to get them more than women of other races. We are not sure why.” Let’s see- the diet? What if I told you I didn’t like fried chicken or watermelon? I don’t get relaxers either. What else you got? The tennis balls in my belly are just plain rude. I can get a hysterectomy, but then early menopause would be waiting around the corner for me like an eager kid playing a game of hide and seek. I hear yams are a good remedy for menopausal symptoms. Right back to Africa. Every time I get out, they pull me right back in.

life.

 

Women travel through talk

Their bodies do

the work.

Days gather the doing.

Blooms sell

The heart of a woman-

love and growing.

 

I Forgot What I Wanted to Call This

Today, I am taking it off. The lies and the layers. I am a dirty pearl waiting to be picked for the softball team, digging, pointing the toes of my too small shoes into the sand, making a home for my shell. When I go bare, please don’t snicker. I have never shown anyone my wires before. They are are shabby and well worn. Grandma’s bras. The ones she hangs on the shower curtain rod that dry to an uncomfortable crust because she uses bath soap to wash them. She was taught to do that. Only nasty girls don’t. You know them. Sticking their tongues out even though they don’t brush their teeth. No one makes them. Her shoulders are just as worn. There is a deep groove there. On both. No matter how she rubs and lotions them, they stay. Roadmaps to the olden days. They hold big secrets, affairs, real fathers, stolen money. Forgive me if I cast my eyes down. It’s hard to be transparent. I am easier to digest during the times I am murky and sticky like that annoying electrical tape that doesn’t actually hold anything together. It only makes your hands black. Gotta wash for dear life. And you better use the soap they use on those ducks after oil spills. Poor things. You know it gets in their eyes. The tape the pastor used on my parents. Let no man put asunder, what God has joined together. Somebody get him a roll of duct tape. The kind with cute designs on it. He might like the cloud kind.

A Jealous, Omnipresent and Delegating God

The way I see it, God has this huge desk. It’s big. Like T-rex big.( Maybe it is a T rex. Who knows? This is God we are talking about). It’s second hand. Nothing new under the sun, right? He got it when he was out thrifting one day. He likes to keep himself close to where he thinks the least of our brethren are, not realizing thrift stores, especially The Goodwill Store is too expensive for the meek and poor in spirit. Especially in LA, which is of course where God lives. He is a star after all. Anyway-on his huge desk, to the left of his long beard (yes, he really does have one) is a towering stack of paper.(The desk is really a mess. Not only are there papers everywhere, but there seem to be trees growing right through it. You remember how in the Odyssey, Odysseus and Penelope had a bed carved from an olive tree? That’s kind of how the desk is.) If you could see the writing, you would know the pages are filled with people’s prayers. All throughout the day, angels sit around in bedrooms, kitchens, and closets all over the world, eavesdropping on little children with their hands clasped so tight, their knuckles turn a whitish-blue color. They sometimes listen to mothers too-but only if they are praying about their children. You know, “God, please let little Timmy get better.” That kind of thing. I’m telling you right now, he is not listening to the lamentations about wanting a man. I know this for a fact. Don’t ask how. Okay, so they write these prayers down and give them to God, who while they were out, was listening to prayers himself, with these huge, God-sized earphones. Behind his desk, he has a wall with everyone’s name. Even yours. It’s a plaque looking thing like what we had in kindergarten, but this one is pink, and there’s a thumbtack right under your name tag (and everyone else’s) that he uses to posts the prayers of other people, so we can all answer each other. See how that works?

A Prose-ish Prolapse

I was supposed to be at work.

Fifteen years old-making money to

Purchase nifty items from the Fingerhut catalogue.

My step-mom got me the job

You know how that is.

She climbed her way up from

Feces wrangler to memory manager,

They trusted her word.

 

The old people, most of them,

Were very endearing. I might even miss

Their stories about Brooklyn,

REAL bagels and big jewels from The Shoa.

The ladies only bathed three times a week,

But wouldn’t be caught (almost) dead without

Some sparkle. Go, girls. (Gone Girls?)

 

Instead of sitting with my ankles crossed

Under the desk, asking how I could help-

Filing papers, using my syrupy voice to calm

The family members’ fears-

I was under the top bunk with a sweaty boy

Who always reeked of weed. I had no idea what that

Smell was, because I was raised right. He on the other hand,

Was a motherless child being taken care of by

Two well dressed Tse Tse flies.

 

He told me she was a housewife.

Sure. The kind that keep

Cocaine taped to the backs of the furniture.

 

I didn’t even feel it.

I just knew it was time to go home, so we stopped.

And then I saw it.

In between my legs like a bloody basketball.

When I made it to my house, the place was empty.

I waited for her outside.

She pulled up, upset that I wasn’t actually sick.

I didn’t even let her yell at me.

Only demanded to go to the hospital.

She refused.

My father would kill her, she said.

She was probably right.

I don’t think my uterus was ready for all the attention.

She slinked right on back up.

Suddenly, I was able to stand.

 

My doctor says if I want to have another baby,

Like, full term-I will need a mesh. No biggie.

Where was the mesh to keep the bad boys out.

The motherless ones, who wreck your chances of

Being a mother yourself?

UNTITLED

What am I doing here at

The edge

Strangling the truth

Holding back the lies

Like an old battered dam

It is blue out

And purple in

With flurries of sparkle and glitter

My hand is glued to my head

And I am thinking of you and how i

Got here.

 

AND WHAT OF THEIR OWN FAILINGS?

Another miserable day.

A walk to school punctuated by the

Pungent fragrance of sugar snap peas

Each tooth a succulent.

Keeps the humans away-

Human repellant. I should patent this.  

The other misanthropes would surely thank me.

Misanthrope society one day?

I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

Each outward puff of air

A curl of his after shave splash

The man is coated in disappointment and lies.

Corroded, splintered promises jammed under the nails.

Next times. Yes, that was it. Next times.

“Next time, I’ll get you a bag of chips.”

Next time, I’ll get you that bike.”

“Next time, I’ll hit you harder.”

Kids back east.

Maybe they are surviving off the

crumbs that drop into his wallet.

Ruddy faced gingers like him.

 

Made it to school finally.

A grand entrance, of course,

Walked into a Volvo station wagon

Parent drop off.

For kids whose parents love them.

Planned to have them.

Basal body temps and ovulation kits

Hormone shots in the ass.

Thousands of dollars mixed with

Prayers people think are free.

And then I saw you, Universe-

Walking with your friends,

Lips colored in with the red-orange

Crayon, eyes made of big bangs and

Deliberation. Hair perfectly coiffed.

You, the rose-colored dawn Homer

Wouldn’t stop going on and on about.

Our eyes met, and for a split second,

I believed you  pitied me.

I feebly mouthed “HELP” cause honestly,

The end is near. I can only be the gross

Girl with the alcoholic mom for so long.

But I must have been imagining things,

Thinking you cared.

The cackle from your lips split

Your face and felled every single

tree lining the walkway.

I should have know you were a selfish bitch.

You’re a Capricorn.

 

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

My shoulders live above my ears now . As a matter of fact, they just put a dreamcatcher up above their bed. Tomorrow, they plan to make a “thing” out of going to IKEA to look for rugs. They feel good about the move. Just enough room in the back for a compost heap and a vegetable garden. The kids will love it. Me, not so much. I am reeling from sudden, startling change. No one prepares anyone for morphing into a new creature because of a new creature. I’ve been watching lots of animal documentaries at night. They help  ward off the nightmares of someone bursting into my home with guns, because, well, that happens a whole lot now. I have come to realize I am living like an ibex. More aptly, a baby ibex who can’t feed itself just yet- but knows how to move just so on big, ashy, flat pieces of rock, so as to evade the dangers of life. In other words, I am a ballerina.

He Knows.

how does he know-

no, what makes him think-

the body of the stronger sex is

for him. That he is free to touch

the little pale toes resting in the sand,

looking at nothing. She drew them back like

a tongue that has met too hot tea.

his little, velvety hand swung back into his lap,

a brown bat contemplating its next move. Again.

this time, the smoothness of her calf-

her voice was like a fire engine turned down very low,

but the “stop” rang out clearly,

my heart joined them in the sandbox.

the mothers around me laughed.

I clutched my chest and stood up,

running to him, waiting for the overseer to appear,

apologizing and grabbing his little arms.

 

“That’s my little man!”

“What should he do? Touch boys?”

 

the car drove home,

I merely sat on the seat

going over everything I learned in

honors biology, wondering what I did wrong

surely the shows on PBS don’t

each that, right?

I stood at the stove cooking.

a pot of stubborn crabs.

the window waved at me, I looked

at a man- lips tight to bleeding,

froth like steamed milk from the cafe next door

where the pretty man flirts with me,

we make band names together,

that means something, right-

on the sides of his mouth

 

he demands that my baby come out,

says he is going to use him as gator bait

(i didn’t know they did that in the west too)

and I freeze. He belongs to me,

and at two years old, already

feels that we belong to him.

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