How far into oblivion can it descend?
Not the head, but the holder—
he who keeps as relic my scorched
tongue. O! How I long to tell of it,
forget the ornate vestibule
in which it stands. This one season
or the next. Hand. Ear. Foot.
Breast sawed off in plunder.
Is it the body’s part or the human’s,
this arcade of Americana?
We pillage into the next era
unbothered by the road, its dust
settling into our skin cells—
the dead touching the dead living.
How far into oblivion can I descend?
My mouth holds this much history,
this scorched tonguing of white flesh.
O Master! How I long to tell of it,
to be held even in this dread
locked grip of hand thrusting my past
into its future era—the next pillage
of face. Bottom. Slapped into obedience.
Is this pleasure? I want to remember
all of it—how this hide is prey.
How desire drives me into
an animal thing. I swallow
and drown into the seed of it—
the living touching the living dead.
Index to the American Slave
for whites, who—somehow—have asked
Nestled among books, the spine bleeds
restraint. I attempt
my chances, finding but row upon row
of property labeled, a record
sorted by interviewer, master, narrator,
state—who’s story is it?
How many ways do you find yourselves
here? Name tied to antithesis. How many ways
do I find myself—thus far, still waiting.
And though located, not found.
The deep root clenched to dirt.
It’s blood root deep but unnamable
save the stock or kin.
Let the record show: we cannot
call our names without uttering yours,
the mess of your lives stuck between our teeth.
Let the record show: we still lurk
in branches your family trees denied us,
hanging in the balance. Blood
thirsty leaves. Catalogued
in that way—our not names.
Drapetomania: Swamp Sublime
forgive the swamp its magic niggers
and mischief to grab onto them who flee
in the crook of its mouth and wait
one death for another for whispers
to become rooted in miles of muck to run
from the crocodile’s teeth but never back
to the crack of whips here in waters
housing the thickness of death and birth
entangled in ropes of smog themselves
choosing to brave the swamp to bring back
desire sick with the will to return to life