Be a bird this month. Be built in speakers. When you find your honey eclipsed behind licorice lips, wisdom body yourself into a feverish chant. Remember when you used to be so mad at Biggie for killing Tupac. Turn that storyless scar into a symphony. He’s so new; you love when he calls you names. When you don’t know how he could live outside of you. When rich black ain’t less black. Be the exotic accent, over the e, fuck like one of those neon signs that flinch. Shoulders make ceilings tangible. Be alluring when you break. You are a furnished room. You mourn persons unknown. You belt out dear mamas wrapped in rap. You are more than body goals. Your wisdom body is mounted at the tips of praying hands. Your wisdom body will trump the trauma. Be a bird this month. Be turned on by your own energy. The only cure for this hangover is you.
Every Year Trying to Get My Body Right
Frenchmen Street in your pickup truck with the broken rearview and the door I can’t open from inside. What’s better than New Orleans car smell, scraped toes hanging out the passenger side. I keep the window open in the event I need to summer language my mouth into prayer. A gallon of water, two crawfish sandwiches, twelve years between us. I’ve got that one good one: God is grace, God is good. Let us thank you for our food. A man I ate before you said, I’m sick and tired of you overfeeding yourself. For breakfast, I used to put my weight into scrubbing the stove. I stay lathered up. I stay far away from home. These languid seconds waiting for you to release me disguised as every year I’ve spent trying to get my body right. I’m in Brazil now, choking on humid desire, armed with another good one: What doesn’t move, flies. Amen.
Learn waiting by waiting in daylight. Life used to be hair soaking feathered pillowcases on the first night. Trails of casual October sin dripping down your neck. Nights were your eyes open sinking in another fool’s mouth. Scorpio, try pedaling forward this month. Put on a song that reminds you of nothing as you wash your hair with three conditioned conditioners. Untangle indecision. Practice bantu knots and Scorpio, you’ve got to let them dry. Or else you can count on the texture of your hair feeling like Mercury in Retrograde. This month, life’ll be a night disguised as moisturized lips, wet with pillow talk. Every time you reach for something, it’ll be paper towel. Prayer won’t work. If you learn waiting by waiting for the collapse of the moon, on the 18th, over brunch, water will not drip down the back of your neck. This is your time to turn yourself into one of those women who wait, forever and a day, til the bantu knots dry.
From Cape Verdean Blues, copyright 2018 by Shauna Barbosa. Reprinted with permission of the author and University of Pittsburgh Press .
Shauna Barbosa's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review , the Awl, Colorado Review, No Tokens Journal, the Atlas Review, PANK , and others. She received her MFA from Bennington College. Pre-order Cape Verdean Blues, available on March 7th, here.