Omotara James

Call to prayer: for my body under the rule of white supremacy

 

Go ahead and cry

Go ahead and *tweet*

Ignore

Delete

Devour       everything you can

fit onto your tongue

Go ahead                      lie

Uncover or seekcover

Go ahead and hold your breath

walking in brown skin

past a murder

of men

a flock

a congress

                                               on the North Lawn

in the subway

outside mosque

at first light

just around

the bend     Go              ahead

Breatheunderwater

 

Lay down your words

D e s e g r e (gate)                  your heart

Pick up                                   Lucille Clifton

Recall                                     the language you live in

Part                                        your six winged seraphim

Call                                        her to sing

 

on your knees

on your back

on your feet

 

Go

where the love is

The Greatest

 

 

The Bolts

 

It is the job of the firstborn to understand

what is given can be taken.

 

Before I told you, mother

that I      how I

loved that woman,

 

tu casa was mi casa:

your garage stored boxes

overflowing with old possessions.

 

Now

you bristle       when I use

the possessive on the phone.

 

Ill stop by

your house, maybe

after four, please dont forget

 

the bolts. Yes, I understand

your instinct to clench, mother, the

tightness          in your chest: that

 

[heartbreak]

won’t dissipate

with time.

 

I’m sorry

it’s come to this

but, without exception

 

love’s invisible

apostrophe

cleaves.

 

 

 

S & M & You: A Love Poem

for M.P.

 

Since you’ve returned

I’ve hung decapitated

 

inside our meat locker: strung silent

upside-down pig,

 

cold metal hook through the anus

cleanly gutted, the blood fresh

 

but not dripping,

red circles around white

 

where my wrists and ankles—

suggest contact

 

you walk into the freezer

leave your signature in bone

 

like a fingerprint on a canvas

still wet

 

as you approach with your cleaver

I pine for your technique.

 

Despite the damage, your blade

remains sharp.

 

Loose skin and fat

lay in piles at your feet

 

like roses, uneven stanzas or enjambments. Even now,

I belong to you and you to me.

 

 

Notes from la Casita

for Amiri Baraka, Bob Dylan, Terrance Hayes

 

…and they were too busy singing

couldn’t hear their own beauty

as they were tuning it

 

I was ringing ‘cause

they were tuning me

still singing    and they were wearing

 

sweatshirts, fur boots

and the girl had flowers on her dress

but couldn’t see them blowing in the wind

 

as she was singing, her eyes closed

and Amiri Baraka sitting on my right

drinking (what smells like) beer?

 

and when did the Alaskans start dancing

and throat singing like blacks

from the joints.  Now Baraka is laughing

 

(still drinking) and the flowers are blowing above

her knees.  I could be in Tuva or wherever

 

but I’m front row

of New York

Lincoln Center

 

still floating in the Terrence Hayes of Blue Baraka

(and he got up to leave as quietly as he came)

 

and I clapped without knowing it and my mind

changed (without knowing it) and it’s been six years

since I gave my life away without knowing it

 

and the tune changed.  Before I knew it Baraka

was back again (I felt Black Again) the music

 

hymning through our bodies, God’s

instruments, brought me back to where

I had stopped writing and begun

 

to revise.

 


Omotara James resides in New York City, where she is an MFA candidate at LIU Brooklyn. She is the recipient of Slice magazine’s 2016 Bridging the Gap Award for Emerging Poets, as well as the Nancy P. Schnader Academy of American Poets Award. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Visceral Brooklyn and Civil Coping Mechanisms’ anthology: A Shadow Map. She has received scholarships from Cave Canem, the Homeschool, and the Garrison Institute. Currently, she edits Visceral Brooklyn and Art of Dharma.


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