Those strangers pairing off at last & each desiring
What little mercy the other can afford.
Y not that year empty with strangers. Y not the silence of wanting.
Y not when we laughed with rain with something, lounging high, touching
your bare shoulders, when I was born.
Y not your long hair that turns within. When the sirens begin. Y not a
kind of disruption, a kind of rupture by arrangement.
Y not the archeology of Other. Y not limbs, tattoos, the DT's at dawn, H's
widow's hungering, sweating on the fire-escape smoking in her bra.
Y not out of style is loss. Your old clothes in boxes, someone's scrawled
Y not from you as if dulled with liquor, on the bare mattress, your open
thighs. To step in their stillness was to become the word erased.
Y not a kind of rain, a kind of arms, a kind of shouting, after a while I
couldn't sleep without you.
Y not some of your friends when we were young, the one with stubble,
eyes like glass. When you were nothing.
Y not their frail bodies, shining.
Y not snow, the syllabics of suffering,
Y not elegies spray painted on basketball courts, each stroke says tomorrow
I won't be here.
Y not waiting—thank you—ceaseless—passing of being human.
Y not my glance—stillness—blue listened for music in your room, an
ascension overheard through the paper walls.
Y not the way we'd map the cracks in the ceiling—the dim bulb absence
Y not you, why can't I—you in this city at closing hour, this strange going
improvised ravine, summer rain among the living.
Y not towards your story, green indecipherable shadows, faces I want
would, longing, to cathedral—
Y not two voices that diminuendo, the point at which what is revealed,
is what leaves—
You're still a Super Fly female.
from the black trunk I shake out
my one American skirt
— Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
those declaring themselves against racism may be reluctant to
change because of resistance to change in general
—David Theo Goldberg
Hit shift: SUPER FLY fro on the subway between Parliament and Post-
Apartheid. Properly, remembering near chanting that down on the first
syllable in the club rocking gin and bub. She does it Properly long gone
like Car Wash suds hipster Zoot Suits against chains, yet four millions
sleep barred brethren you sleep in your exploration of silence Pulitzer hip
for the noise is too loud but I say shout Bring on Da Noize Da Funk the P
Funk Make my Funk pump in the back of yo trunk make the Soul Shimmy
sway remake the world out of red clay beans and rice Jambalaya mish max
mix it up Cajun with couscous on the side like a long playing LP solo like
Fred Anderson of the Chicago Art Ensemble playing free form candlelight
moonshine American wrinkles around his mirrored syntax layered History
riffs wind wayward redolent White America the officer compounds
of Christ's gated-community the camps of aesthetic fascists lost in their
fragmentation ironic sardonic bitter tenure instead of trembling ecstatic in
beats shaking Groove Things sunshine Blame It On The Boogie Woogie
to Avenue B damn times Dizzy times Good Times times two plus two is
three in the 21st Century so astonishingly uttered these Loisada language
dreams toward Nueva York Orange County rich white girl ska band gone
solo Super Fly white female video uttered for each the word love for each
is Memorial shoemaker shopkeeper in the New World for the Old World
for the lost names and the Yahrzeit light for the nobody who would know
for the Hebrew and the Holocaust for the Woolworth's counter and the
young men who refused to leave for the mothers who faced nightsticks and
knuckles and the ghosts embrace coral necklaces train yard my people goat
slaughtered who are my People, all people? Is this possible? Father sleep late
for the factory is closed the shift differential is spent in the neighborhood
of lost nickels in the church services in the Barrio where the priest was
born in the blessing of English-less-ness in the Godfather's grace in the
lost tongues in the tongue spoken for gratitude is a bus ride home from
work for running with our backs to the flames to fall in love easily and you
aren't afraid the door is closed for wearing braces is a signifier of class for
struggle for a cigarette after coffee for our mothers' varicose veins and the
long walk up the third flight of stairs for a hard boiled egg and a bottle of
water in the hot sun leaning over the fields for the rum runners and the grape
pickers spinning assimilated names in my hands I am a man something
to lift to pick to shelf to make to play to pause to hold to sift to say my life
is more than this signature this card passport license face to say I learned
no I learn against this aqui to shimmy shake hunger of the old dialect the
new dialect where we slept interlaced in the fields of everything earned to
earn incarnate confession of the kitchen broom sweeping the dust out of
the Tombs where they took the secret scrolls hear the young Babushka'd
woman brush the crumbs off the counter at the last open diner where the
Super Fly rest after a long night of something shaking with their spangles
and their tight pants and their bodies imagination before the next shift
their own identity that shine that digging out that last cigarette after coffee
and the slow jam and the new steps and the new hair and the new length for
the skirt you just bought that new long-playing-single that new language
bearing down the track needed washing off your mascara taking off your
uniform untying your hair the radio playing marimba of the red ribbon
your man's hands his dirty hands from work and love and need a burning
a burning river.
To read more poems by Sean Thomas Dougherty, please click here to purchase JUBILAT 11