Poetry Suite by Rashida Shani Young
Editor Carrie Seitzinger, Poetry, February 13th, 2017
"The Word is loose lust, it dandelions up above my crown..."
Hi, Wasted Dignity
(Highways to Dignity)
In a crimson backless Sunday best,
on my spine with bent knees.
reminds my collar bones of their balance,
stills the remains of my skeleton
to a pond of pheromone and propensity.
Tips into my skin,
distributing a ratio of dream and responsibility,
the kind encouraged by biting down
on pews, in libraries.
Upon opening those precious paperbacks,
all the pages fall out.
Broken rhythm of frail faith
exposed torsos light the torch,
pass the basket, pocket the change.
The Word is loose lust,
it dandelions up above my crown
leaving a rust that stains fingers, spreads dis-ease,
empty as ever-changing
partly cloudy weather.
So, He poured his smiles in my sockets
(I swallowed without a gag)
His kiss, a lamb at my umbilical,
(Altered all of me)
My mouth babbled a child’s full bladder
(Worth of worthy)
Here, in this honey yellow hue
He places a jeweled bib around my neck.
“To keep those broken edges off your chest”
Then blinked twice with one eye and died.
I sat upright,
and discreetly removed guilt crust
from my daily bread.
+ + +
A Study of Living Things
My eyes are blowing truth,
Open mouth inside my mouth trying to open.
broken water leaking life.
I, stricken, possessed, crooked spine
piece of my mama’s skirt tourniquet the tips of my fingers
prayer: grasp the memory of this moment from the future
Cannot stop wringing
My mama’s eyes hum:
“Baby, Rip the whole thing to shreds if that’s what it takes”
Bear down, my expandable abdomen contracts you here
Cry on the line: ___________________________ Love me.
Your father is focused,
fixed on the hub of labor.
I, on the wood floor,
beating, begging it to absorb at least some of the fire dragging out of me.
Papa coils in close,
banksia velvet cyclical gestures,
muted yellow whispers,
my soaring bellow howl,
through the window the moon widens her hips in camaraderie.
A seed that took my slip,
my entirety now sees through
pinnacle of purpose.
We are all Mothers’ Daughters,
thighs with sides we refuse to shave.
Afterbirth, pulpy like durian
skin of silent silk
still womb wet
Our tale assembled:
When that rainbow sunset lifted its skirt betwixt my lips, Grandmother’s sung voice shaking the church house, Grandfather’s resurrected working hands, (carrot cake) and this old craftsman I’m bloody spilled out in,
conjured a committee.
Decided to unify,
behind your eyes,
+ + +
A Lone Polar Bear Wearing a Negligee
The flippant ice below
my huge round thighs
just keeps melting.
With eyes closed I try to imagine
the flower that sweet tern mentioned.
How something grows from something
other than this expanse of pursed white lips.
I have friends that visit.
Feelings lead to temperature spikes
and as always,
the water gloats about its ability to rise;
delights at the ease,
with which its more dense form releases itself to flow,
how that transaction secures expanse of the kingdom.
I am so jealous,
I squirt some strange sound out
and the cold rocks begin to crack,
they mock me.
I never told the cub’s father
about that beautiful Beluga,
how I dreamed of shedding my fur,
having sleek white skin,
breathing in the narcissistic current.
Oh…to migrate from below.
Look, I am no fool.
What can my heart say?
I’ve just always loved that whale.
+ + +
In the shadow of my tomorrow,
beside a past lover
turning rain water into sweet tea
Here I am.
A body drinking a spirit,
flesh quenched with remnants of that old story.
As if one of Saturn’s suns
lost its way,
wound up in my mouth
burning in my throat
turning today to a molten metallic kiss.
Rings that remind
beasts without wings
they too can take flight.
The shadow slides down my back
singing a winter song,
whose harmonies melt through the ear
like the weight of snow
on a blushing cheek.
+ + +
Header image courtesy of Constantinos Chaidalis. To view a feature of his art, go here.
Rashida Shani Young is an activist, poet, and educator in Portland, OR. She works to connect communities of color to spaces of wellness and trauma relief. She is currently co-creating a podcast called Dark Matter, a platform for black and POC voices to discuss their truth uncensored. You can locate Dark Matter on iTunes April 3, 2017.