Poetry

i wish i was like you

i like fish, the food.

my family is fishermen and i grew up around fish

bateau, pirogue, fishing poles, tackle, guts

fresh fish and the men who catch them do smell sort of… bad

theyll tell you it just smells “like the ocean” but

it’s not exactly a lie except the ocean kind of

reeks a little bit

Not to me

I love the smell of the ocean and of gutted fish

but I accept that many people don’t enjoy the smell

I grew up eating catfish, flounder, redfish and trout which dont smell too much but they do smell and I love the smell

All these fish are different but somehow when I first had salmon, mahi mahi and cod as an adult it wasn’t as if I was eating something incredibly new. They tasted also like fish.

Then I had anchovies and other rank salted fish. Love them. I like rank fish better than mild fish. I love fish skin and crispy fish fins.

Lots of people hate fish and the smell of fish. I found this out growing up in Florida of all places. Florida on the snowy gilded Gulf Coast. Where you might see a lovely  marlin arch out of the glittering water!

I learned a lot of people find fish disgusting. I love fish but other people hate it and think it’s  gross.

Here’s what I dont do when I find out someone dislikes or even is repulsed by fish.

1. I don’t offer them fish. Because they don’t like it so there’s no point. I don’t demand they try fish.

2. I don’t condescendingly lecture them about the wide varieties of fish and fish preparations  in the world and insist that their existence means no one can categorically dislike fish. Catfish tastes different from sardines and I like both because they’re both fish. If I can like fish in general someone can hate fish in general.

3. I don’t tell them they haven’t found the right fish, implying that someone should try endless variations on a food that disgusts them until by default they begin to bear it or discover, following gustatory agony, a version they like. This is rightly called culinary torture.

4. I don’t quiz them for a loophole in their dislike. I don’t say “Not even fishsticks” or something desperate like that. If they do like fishsticks I don’t claim triumph shouting “SEE YOU DO LIKE FISH!” I just accept that in general they dislike fish but sometimes enjoy fishsticks.

5. I don’t tell them they only dislike fish because they haven’t had the finest line caught trout at the height if the season, hand prepared by my authentic Cajun grandmère. I don’t sneer and groan at their bad experiences with frozen seafood or Long John Silvers (even though I know they’re terrible). I assume they don’t like fish because they don’t like it.

6. I don’t take it personally that they dislike fish and think it’s gross. I understand why they think it’s gross…

I understand because I hate cheese and beer and mashed potatoes. These foods, unlike fish, are legally required to be consumed once a day to remain an American citizen. These are also foods, unlike fish, that white people cannot live without.

Cheese and beer are two of the most disgusting smelling things in existence. In terms of foulness a fresh cheese or beer puts a fresh bit of fish to shame.

But beer is the worst.

Beer smells like cat urine rotting on wheat litter. I have had the misfortune of actually, consistently inhaling such an aroma and it always reminded me of a beer. Beer smells of men who don’t like to hear the word no. And even if just compared to other favorite beverages of predatory men, like a beautiful caramel flavored Bourbon… it still reeks of piss.

My husband drinks fancy well rated dark beers. I lost a bet and I had to take a sip once. I planned on drinking much of it. I wanted to believe I was insane. I wanted to be a cool wife who browses beer advocate and jots down tasting notes. I failed. The first taste was of burnt cigarettes. Then burnt coffee.  And some chocolate. It’s was what I assume runoff must taste like, a mixture of poisons, motor oil, ashes and food waste. And it reeked and had this pointless tasteless foamy carbonationy texture. A soda made of sodden mildewy grass. I recall a woman who survived the brutal war in Darfur reporting she was forced to drink the blood of the dead for lack of fresh water. When people say beer is refreshing I assume that would be the circumstances of their thirst. Most readily available tap water tastes better than beer.

A sip of wine or whiskey or tequila or grapefruit juice or even Coca-Cola has a deep full flavor. You almost don’t need a second mouthful. But you want one because the first was so intensely flavored. Beer is the opposite. It has a yawning empty canyon of taste across which float thin clouds of beswirled nastiness. It’s dilute like carbonated water dirtied  by the scant random syrup leavings and mold in the catch tray of a soda fountain. It would be better to just drink a plain glass of clear water. You don’t drink another mouthful because it might taste like chocolate or it might taste like cigarette butts or it might taste like someone stirred all purpose flour and bicarbonate of soda into a glass of lukewam cow piss.

Plain whiskey is like liquid candy. There’s no WTF DID I JUST DRINK, TOILET WATER OR WHISKEY moment when drinking it. I admit my taste of beer was similar to wine, but wine’s wannabe, poser cousin made of far worse materials. Poor wine can be made into punch but beer, good or horrible, can only be made into bad memories.

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Poetry

now now now

for the 5 hundred eighty-ninth time i ask him what’s wrong

this time he tells me

so i can blow his worries away like dandelion fluff

i see tears well in eyes forbidden, taught not to cry

afterwards he melts into me, curls against me

relaxed

faun thigh over my hip

claiming

tension goes from his princely brow

to me he is just a boy

im a black woman: the unbroken expanse of the universe

he is a tiny ant busy with trivialities

but he notices me now

now he yields

now

 

 

 

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Poetry

it’s my fault

it’s my fault that Baton Rouge is underwater

the gulf rises up, the river spreads out

calling me reaching for me

saying my name

underwater daughter

it’s my fault because i ran away from home

because i left my people to drown when

tender levees gave way to the sea that

i love and loves me

have you ever seen a tall orange tree dressed in cheerful baubles

drink from them dirt and water laughs now inside you

swampy crickets chanting as water rises silently

please dear god of bayou bless them

keep babies and hound dogs safe

my mother and mother’s mother

the dark wise face of my father’s father

i am the vessel of all their mistakes

it is my fault

when the water recedes the city people

will ask why they go back

as if Louisianans are deluded

battered wives returning to

abuse that tastes like love

they don’t ask this of Cape Codders

if the gulf was calling you in the night

moss gowned oaks whispering

you would go back too

you would know it was your fault

you would never leave

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Poetry

still dancing

Try to be really still and silent

you can’t do it

your intercostal muscles will disobey

spreading your ribs apart to let air into you

soon you will feel your own heart

the slippery metronome by which you must live

it’s enduring rhythm making thousands of blood vessels throb

if you’re alive you’re still dancing and singing

dancing is not something you can aspire to, it is you

your insides are near fever at 98 degrees

in the most metaphorical, poetic way you’re alive and on fire

even if all you can move is your eyelashes

you’re still dancing

and the best part is that when you die

the molecules that comprise you will continue dancing

the best part is that they who are you cannot stop moving

try to be perfectly still

even in death you cannot do it

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Poetry

good form

Lea smiles at me because our names rhyme

Later she tells me I have good form

Every elemental fragment of potassium has been wrung out of my body now a quivering shuddering mass of inflamed muscle fibers

I do not have good form

My abdominal muscles are flexible and happy to curl my lumbar spine into a seductive lordosis

My lower back is tough and numb, bent in from holding up the weight of brain and breasts

My lower back is resigned to the lazy laxity of my belly

It feels silly that my spine will move so easily in one direction but not the other

The class is like good amphetamine and I can’t sleep

Physiologically my TVA is relearning responsibility

remebering good form

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Poetry

Navel Gazing 1

I still don’t know if I should express myself or not. It seems like a stupid question but is expressing oneself allowed? A selfie, a poem that doesn’t exactly rhyme, a harrowing personal essay… is it okay? Perhaps everything has already been expressed so new expressions are superfluous. Or is it that it’s better, less arrogant to document others… excepting that of course one cannot express first person experience for another. Can Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton stand in for me? I’m still not sure. Maybe dear Juliet had more to say that was left unsaid. Are the nymphs peeking around the stage curtain, uncertain? May they speak or are they only objects of rape and other misfortunes? I still don’t know, honestly. What if all there is to feel and do and become is bound up in the canonical heroes? Then no more poems and stories are needed. I don’t know.

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