For Drought & The End of the World
I remember how summer storms
are still a natural occurrence.
Again, sun breaks the afternoon cover.
Again, light thunders the air thick.
So, when this terrain is a known-desert,
this drought is not all the lungs can muster.
Thirst is this kind of devastation,
a cracked earth, dust blistering:
an endless land lingers to the shore.
Every Pacific Ocean birth gawks at the fault-line,
the dwindling flowers in the valley.
Stakes grounded set wildfires of the dead—
because every kind of hysteria smokes beyond the hills
& every kind of anxiety hangs over the palm trees.
What if it was too late to replenish the beaches?
Would the jagged rocks already be in the sea by then?
All the gold swallowed back into the pan.
All the islands submerge as mountaintops.
The remnant cliffs would finally exhale,
swallowing them-selves no longer.
Again vultures, instead of the ghosts
burrowed in the foothills & barren rivers
& atmospheric pressure
kept by imminent quake & deluge.
a-coming of age:
xi. my father tried to tell me manhood
was the evidence in my middle school underwear,
but i knew of yahoo video.
i knew what safe search meant. i knew i would never find
illicit temptations in any closets close to me.
i knew that boyhood busts
into effluvia of shame & relief.
i knew arousal as four-letter word.
i knew what listening for footsteps meant closing
each window to what i hypothesized as myself.
i saw breasts before i was ever told they were bad things.
i remember the starburst graphic over 2am co-ed nipple
telling me of the going wildness of girls.
i wanted my chest to excite censorship. i wanted to be
parentally warned against.
i thought being a man was a science
but learned my dick is so much like Schrödinger cat,
only appearing when you stare it directly in the eye.
you can’t tell me i’m not here, she purrs.
i have never trusted that which grows between me.
i have resisted holding my faith in such a fickle extremity.
xviii. i’d have to cast niggas in white face
to play my high school friends.
i’d allow the white mothers
to play themselves, again,
the ineffectual saviors of guilt
& soccer practices.
would all be played by me,
in the suit worth more
than my last three meals.
i wanted to be a JD Salinger,
more than Holden Caufield.
& i hated wanting to Blackface-
white anxieties. it was all i knew,
the only frustration seemed fragility.
everyone around me is in on the joke:
me trying to pass as more than
fiction beside them.
i was held in constant disbelief.
the unconventional intermission
where the cast comes in the audience
in character & plays along.
that’s the humor here,
i know you know
i’m playing apart.
or i want to believe it,
i want to believe
you know this production is for you.
xiv. i’ve only been called a faggot to my face once.
& i knew him well.
in a car driving by me in our suburban downtown.
he was just trying to surprise me. or remind me
i was outside & alive & never suppose to feel safe.
i remember laughing it off, instinctually.
i must have looked so comfortable before.
unassuming. like I could forget the threat of being
however: this other time
i was called a faggot kindly,
without the actual word
escaping across the room.
it was the first day of high school,
in my suburban high school,
a small theater gathering of students
waiting to learn more about the Drama
department & before the meeting starts
among 100 eager eyes,
this chick across the room:
yo, cutie with the dreads, like girls?
& i have to smile & say yes, instinctually.
i had to laugh off my faggotry,
among the audible groans of pale thirst,
& beastial frustration.
I Know I Been Changed
After Lashun Pace (Rhodes)
no longer can you call me a beast of this earth
this tender flesh is not satisfied by the harvest
in my mouth — now abundant — is milk & honey
i’ve crossed barren waste for holier land
because i am an angel now
the blood of my body made snow-white robe,
an all gilded miracle, my new language is flight
at my shoulder blades an expanding
without ache — wide as freedom
this body prophesied transfiguration
called itself: divine, called the streets: alabaster
called baptism: the afternoon
i ain’t what it used to be, made new
made sacrament & fear
no longer confined to sensations or consequence
no longer concerned about the failings of mortality
i know i been changed & you can’t tell me no better
you will call me out my self, blasphemous
but i have heard on high my body is harmonic gospel
it was written in sacred memory before coming into being
now, i am here ready for rapture, cause
the angels in Heaven done signed my name
i said, the angels in Heaven done signed my name
jayy dodd is a blxk question mark from los angeles, california– now based on the internet. they are a professional writer & literary editor. their work has appeared / will appear in Lambda Literary, The Establishment, Assaracus, Winter Tangerine, Dreginald, & Guernica among others. they’re the author of [sugar in the tank] on Pizza Pi Press. their debut collection Mannish Tongues will be be released in 2017 on Platypus Press. they are a 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominee. find them talking trash or taking a selfie.