I gave four prompts to collaborating poet Ashaki M. Jackson. She conducted three minutes of “fevered writing” with each prompt. Here are the results. These words comprise the lexicon I’ll use to create my dis•articulations poem.
Blue Milk and Space Frogs: The Secret Stories of Star Wars
I have meals to make and no time to skin the beans. If I pull the fat from the yard, it will harden by dinner. What I need is milk from the elephant and a piece of the tail to sweeten the cake. What I need the recipe for hard-won joy. I hear is smells like the small white seeds that you mistake for maggots and eat anyway. There are dresses dangling from the palms catching all of the scent from the kitchen that we’ll wear after dinner that will glow blue and bluer like the bantha. Have you dressed yourself in bantha? Wait until I sing my knife into this bikini-clad woman to gather the stew bones. Then, we’ll try them on fir size.
Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down
I learned to resist seizing my mother’s womb for what she says was eternity – fought toothless and nail-less against the raging light. I cried when the air caught me by the throat, then I pushed it out with fear. I thought the ground was a place to smother with my small both, rolling and patting until it was tame. I yelled when sleep was gathering my daylight for itself. I battled and battled then woke up. I yanked the spoon away when my parents tried to feed be with the sense that I could do better. I take and never give. Is this the push?
The Sound of a Burning American Flag
Consider the older television shows where officers were so funny. They were soft and hairy like pets. They comforted you and knew you were a good guy—you in your woolen recliner on your shag carpet. Call them documentaries of how funny it was all supposed to be. A bloop here, now a boom there and blood. I asked a friend about the last power outage and she couldn’t remember. I said that it was only last week. She mentioned, “Maybe just your street?” And the wear in the wool and the carpet began to show. Things are less funny without a soundtrack. Where is the cue?
This week in patriarchy: who needs prenatal and newborn care, anyway?
Here and gaslighting and dim and here and Black or vagina or media and outrage and empty purses and animal pelts but democracy but men and eggs and food and children but bombs and laws but traps and theater and demonstration and Pepsi but water and oil like I said Oil and Tillerson but not Ryan or maybe Ryan? I thought safety then learned sacrifice and sex all for the puppies.
Ashaki M. Jackson gave four prompts to me. I conducted three minutes of “fevered writing” with each prompt. These words comprise the lexicon that Ashaki will use to create her dis•articulations poem.
Uppgivennetssyndrom, or resignation syndrome, is said to exist only in Sweden, and only among refugees. The patients seem to have lost the will to live. “They are like Snow White,” a doctor said. “They just fall away from the world.”
Was it Snow White who was waiting to be rescued from sleep? No, she ate the poisoned apple. No, that was Eve, for whose sins we all continue to pay. So many of us waiting to be rescued, be admitted, be allowed, be recognized, be validated? When do we stop waiting? When do we take up the dagger of our own power and carry it between our teeth? Never mind the doctors, or the world’s pity. Never mind the borders, which are only lines on paper.
“We drag the streets with our baggage of longing.”
My bags got confiscated in the last sweep. Cops came and bulldozed the whole tent city, blankets strewn in the gutter, papers scattered along the sidewalk. My bags of longing now someone else’s problem. Let them moon around always yearning for what they can’t have. I’m done with it. I’m all about renunciation now. I’ve got a shirt and pants and my begging bowl. I’m teaching myself not to need more. This will drive a stake through the heart of capitalism and I’ll die rich and free.
“It doesn’t matter what the by-line is if you’re paying your bills.”
Who thought of this system where we trade our authenticity for our survival? Where we die a little every day in order to live? Who wrote those rules? Who decided? I look up at the sky—the clouds did not make this structure. They absorb moisture and release it as rain. There is no cloud factory, no office of rain. The birds feed their young and travel as a pack. They know their migration routes even when we rearrange the land beneath them. Trees reach up their green arms and send their roots deep.
So the baby dolls have different shades of brown skin—cocoa and coffee and caramel and all those signifiers that have to do with food, with consumption, and they are piled in a stack the way bodies can be piled in the holds of ships for slavery or forced migration. The babies are open-eyed and open-mouthed; they do not know what awaits them. Some laughing. Some upside down. We can’t see the expressions of those at the bottom of the stack. They carry their pink rubber nipples the color of nothing familiar.