we dance like the walls of jericho are grinding away
you will not understand why we dance like this
or how sinful praising god for giving us these bodies might look.
you will say “these kids” or suck you teeth or look away,
but this is holy. we aren’t so different from you, because
all we speak tongues and worship the body.
what a gift from the lord, who makes the lame walk!
it’s a miracle how we move.
if it makes you feel better
this time, when we walk, i will practice my silence.
i will speak when spoken to. i will be quiet.
i will not ask you questions about your hometown
or your accent or your ex. when we walk, anxiety
a third wheel standing between us, i will walk
lighter. i will breath lighter. i will suck in my gut
and i will look lighter. i will tell the sun to set
and the melanin to go away. i will be lighter.
i can do this for you as long as you keep walking.
i can practice this trick for you every time we are together.
There’s always that one kid who doesn’t die when he gets shot in a schoolyard game of war. Some other child soldier aims down his airy scope and slows his breathing so that no movement of his chest changes the trajectory of his shot. He feels a ghostly recoil as he pulls an imaginary trigger. The invisible, intangible, silent but certainly deadly bullet hits its target. However the target remains upright. You’ll try to confront the walking deadman, who might have spontaneously turned into a zombie. That happens sometimes. But if that’s the case, he would walk with his arms in front of him and one leg dragging behind. This kid doesn’t know he’s been gravely wounded. “Hey! I shot you!” you yell.
“Nuh-uh! I had super speed so I dodged it.” He says, leaping side to side to showoff his subpar super speed. It looks pretty slow but deep down you know he’s right. Now you’re there, looking stupid because you forgot he had super speed. How could you be so ignorant? Next time you’ll make sure to have heat seeking bullets to follow him no matter how fast he moves. No way he has super speed and defensive flares.
Somewhere in these woods, there is a glade
full of rusty retired cars. The paths are too narrow,
kept hostage by sky reaching cedars and short shrubs
so I know these cars weren’t driven there. The forest
grew around those relics. Not a tree bumps a bumper
and no grass grows taller than the rims. The forest
is kept at bay by those watchful headlights, dim
but not dumb. The woods will never encroach.
No branch will reach in through the window
and tune the radio with its cold arms.
Nor will the thorny bushes poke its fingers
around the backseat searching for keys.
And the old matches will stay unmoved.
The still wet and useless but undisturbed.
And the engine will rot but never be replaced.
Cars are called she. I don’t know why.
I know that she is lost. But she is okay,
content with calling the grove home,
as long as it respects her. As long as
it does not seek to uproot her.
She will be happy and grow older here.
And she will greet every lost boy who finds
her just the same way. He will see those headlights
and swear by all things good that they shined.
The funny thing about x
is that one moment it’s found
only to go missing the next time around.
My grandmother found x in a man
who puffed and puffed and shook her bones
with his voice. He grabbed her by the ribs
and said he was taking back what God had stole.
She saw the equation solved and complicated again
every time he said he loved her.
She could never tell who he was saying it to.
My mother found x in her children.
The x comes in infrequent, but savory scraps
of mothers-day cards and kisses goodnight.
But when our x is so faithless, I think she goes
looking in the Christian radio station.
My sister found x in herself when she said
she’d never let another man touch her.
My grandmother laughed and cried that night.
She knows that x in our hands and hearts is like
finding x in candles that will always need to be
replaced and relit.
I found x in a Sunday service.
It was at the alter where I cried
and didn’t know who I was mourning.
It was underneath the pews.
It was in the stained-glass portrait
of a man who could’ve been my friend
if only he was around more often.
The funny thing about God is that I thought I found Him,
only for him to go missing from His tomb.
Two lungs to swell in the moment
Two hands to ball up or raise
depending how I feel.
Two feet to carry me to the front lines.
Two eyes to witness interesting times.
Two ears to listen for a battle cry
or the storm that’ll carry us all to sea.
Ten fingers to count transgressions.
One heart that pumps.
Two watering eyes.
Two ears tuned to the right channel.
Two nostrils flaring like a bull.
One drummer boys heart.
Lips, open! Open up!
It’s me! Do something!
Silence and my heart
slows to a deadly march.
I’ve been riding this train
for a very long time now,
much longer than the woman
who just got on. While all stand clear,
the doors close, and we
are locked in this silver eel together.
It is two minutes beneath the East
River until the next stop and I feel
the pressure pounding, my ears popping,
and her eyes perusing the train
as if it is her first time. She has goldfish eyes.
They are wide and forgetful eyes.
Dark and beautifully unforgettable eyes.
This journey will always be new for her.
I think of talking to her, ask her what
book she’s reading. But all my thought
drift upward like hot air, and seep through
the cement and cement to drown, unheard,
in the East River.
As the train arrives at Bedford Avenue,
I am tired and the train lulls me to sleep.
My eye close like a camera lens,
but no photo for memory is saved.
When I wake up, she is gone. But,
I know tomorrow she’ll be back with those
glassy refreshing eyes. God’s most beautiful
anointment, those youthful Goldfish eyes.