As it happens, I have never tired of blackness—its Marcus Garvey,
Raisin in the Sun, Tuskegee airmen. Its Strivers Row and liver lips;
its Dred Scott, Freedman’s Bureau, Scott Joplin. Some say black is
swarthy, gloomy, evil, fiendish, but we all spring from the tribes—
Ashanti, Bobo, Fulani, Wolof—the cowrie shells and krobo beads sewn
into our fading fabric. I don’t know much about my native blackness;
my daddy he say Igbo, the only word he can give me, but it’s the only word
I need to get the old folks to remembering that in Igbo ututu is morning,
abali is night, and in any mirror, my ihu—my face—is always black.
Published in Beg No Pardon (Perugia Press, 2007)
The Mollusk Museum
is and is not
a velveteen pillow
a dinner hour mistake
with candied yams on the side
a box at the bottom of
hitchhiking through town
footprints in a cemetery
two moon pies per gypsy
greedy art and dirigible need
rushes and reeds
tracing paper on papyrus
the solo, the ensemble
thrumming the hand
a river, a poplar,
the same old questions
I come to struggle,
to eat the edges of;
to abrade the chemical
& the alchemical
in the falling night, always
a souvenir wrapped in a rigmarole;
Vivaldi versus Jay-Z.
I’m rapt in biblical passages but never
in any Book of Revelatons or
Koran or Green Hornet.
All is taboo. Every day like any other
habit. A telegram never opened.
Published in Ploughshares, Winter 2010-11
Who Giveth This Girl?
She took the name Toy Cow.
She was aware of her milk.
Re-naming > privilege.
At play = desire even when
day after year (don’t forget
your January birthday!)
she took the name she was given—
sent the rest to a church were the nuns were a little ballsy.
What’s in a name
is a confoundment,
is sky torn down like wallpaper.
Who giveth this name in wedded agony?
Sticks and names
do not honor thy father
but at bequesting time…
…Toy Cow is the name she took.
The boys called her ____________.
The girls called her _________________.
When she began,
she began to call herself.
Published in Fourteen Hills (2015)