A poem inspired by Khadijah Queen’s 2014 Naropa SWP Workshop at the Jack Kerouac School Of Disembodied Poetics.
My name is string tying the hawk’s legs red.
My mother’s name is springtime in a land where she wasn’t born red.
My father’s name is pencil markings of the bombs red.
My sister’s name is lovely flower red.
My brother’s name is unstoppable fission red.
My grandmother’s name is sorrow on a soft wind red.
I come from a people known for moonshine bootleggers, broken cathedrals, and long voyages across the sea.
What is your real name? I hate being called wife, without a name. I think you do too.
How do you feel with a mouth full of salt instead of the languid, tamarind language of your city? The city that sings to you and you the only one who hears her.
What does she sound like? Soprano or alto? Silk or broken windows? Do the cries of the market slide down her throat like tamarind or salt?
Does the gutter water taste like gutter or peppermint schnapps?
I think I could live married to my city as the queen or live lost and alone with no one but my city to comfort me.
When you died, when your city died, you were looking at each other.
What was that like?
This poem first appeared in Lupercalia.
Photo Credit: Sodom’s destruction; Lot and daughters escapes. Dom von Monreale, Sizilien.