Tuesday Nov 20

MontillaYesenia Yesenia Montilla is an Afro Latina poet & translator, daughter of immigrants and native New Yorker. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day and others. She received her MFA from Drew University in poetry and poetry in translation and is a Canto Mundo Fellow. The Pink Box, her first collection, was long-listed for the Pen Open Book Award 2016.
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Notes on Self Care
—for Hikmet & Girmay
 
what better way to forget
that the world is burning & vulnerable — (falling

leaves in autumn) than by imagining
matching rain boots in London town
 
Idris & his Luther like wool coat with their deep
pockets where both your hands fit
 
as he walks you to his flat
& the décor is ridiculous: French chic
 
with some touches of Kentucky country
but it’s your fantasy & there’s no room
 
for black leather couches or 70 inch TVs—no bachelor’s
Shangri-La here
No beer in the fridge, only rows & rows of vintage Bordeaux

You chase Idris across your forehead
whirling into bed with him like a wrecking ball
 
imagining his scruff face
against your neck, his beard

better than any dead
sea exfoliator you’ve ever owned
 
his languid fingers like rakes
against your plump body
 
& he loves your poems—
 
all of him, his 40 trillion cells
at attention to every stanza you write
 
& what better way to live than to desire this way?
& this is not escapism it’s survival—
 
One day, this earth will rot
or worse
be made good  
 
& there will be no need
for this sort of day dreaming
 
One day, this earth will be good
or worse
we’ll be good    
 
& Idris will be a faint taste of something
you once wanted  
 
what I mean is   maybe one day
we’ll get it right & this fantasy will be unnecessary
 
like trees shedding against a November sky
 
so unnecessary you’ll sit down to write a poem
about the time you fantasized you made love to Idris Elba

& even that won’t hold back your damn sorrow
 
nothing will     even in this perfect world
nothing will make you whole again
 
not even remembering how in your reverie he held
you like one of your metaphors
 
between his fingers    
as though your poems were just delusions    

foliage falling to the earth routine & dying
thin as rice paper
tender as paper cranes—
 

 
Muse Found in a Colonized Body
 
Before the bees                       nothing
            like before free labor               nothing neither
I think what I mean is that before I learned about
                        pollination,                  love,
the discovering of       another to make
            something sweet         I already knew
about the things                       my body could                        do
            without compensation—

   

Karl Marx as Muse
 
I am no Jenny, but I want you to write me a love poem
Something about a proletariat uprising
Something about free water & food
Something about more than just survival
 
You’ve whispered in my ear a dozen times:
you write poems because of a delicate fissure
in the ruling class’s ideology. & when I look
at my paycheck, for a moment I feel very
bourgeoisie, all petticoats & pale skin.
 
But later,         after I’ve paid everything
                        after I’ve watched the Kardashians on E
                        after another bottle of Malbec gone

I dream of setting the world on fire—
I dream of you & your precious beard                       how if alive now
 
we wouldn’t be friends, you’d live in Brooklyn & be calledhipster
sitting in shadowy bars
drinking bourbon & discussing your own theories     but never
writing them down                 never that—

Oh, precious Karl, father of all things revolutionary
 
take me to bed            tell me something about alienation that you haven’t already
 
            If I stare too hard at the world it all becomes an assembly line
 
Lover, I beg you         gift me a revolution—

  

 
Feel Gray, Must Exit
—for Suzanne Mallouk
 
nowhere to go
            but you have to           go        somewhere
 
if I had a garage I’d have a sale:                     EVERYTHING MUST GO
 
even the garage—
 
my obsession with teeth would prompt me to keep my toothbrush.
 
            & my ovaries, how they cry lately      maybe I’ll leave
my birth control pills behind              make love
 
to a wanderlust with a wild beard                   &
            a sweater like moth fodder                             our baby
 
will look & sound like iggy pop
                                                                        born with eyeliner on.
 
            & I’ll never come back                       not even for funerals
                                                            not even if they bought me a ticket—