All You Ask For is Longing

Those strangers pairing off at last & each desiring

What little mercy the other can afford.

—Larry Levis


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.

—Gwen Stephani


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