You’re telling me
about a dream you had,
where you were fucking this girl
and you looked down
and saw a big hole in your stomach,
and inside the hole was a gleaming
wooden bar counter,
where burnt-out laborers
sat scowling into their drinks
below hunched shoulders
and five o’clock shadows.
One of them offered you a beer,
and you reached
inside your stomach
to pull it out and drink it.
I’m curious about that girl
you were fucking,
wondering if she noticed the hole
expanding in you
before you looked down,
if she loved the flesh
she had to watch
turn raw and glistening
before it disappeared,
and if she knew not to expect
your gaze to ever fall on her.
I wonder if she, too, had
a hole in her stomach,
whether it was a bar counter inside,
or an all-night diner,
or a slaughterhouse,
whether the people
in her gut with faces
grey as wasp nests
would have poured her
a mug of black coffee
or forced her to swallow
But in the light of the green bulbs
you’ve screwed into every
fixture of your apartment,
our faces look like cadavers,
like we are underwater
in a vast cloudy aquarium
and by now we both
should have drowned.
I can’t trust my eyes
to anchor the world
in the colors it’s meant to be,
and so the right things
to do and say
float out of my grasp,
slippery as algae.
It occurs to me that for you
the green lights never go off,
so I don’t bother to ask any questions.
You’re telling me
Congratulations to Shira Rubenstein from Massachusetts!
Runner Up: Chris Magnifico, Michigan
Honorable Mention: Abbie Shain from New Jersey,
Marwa Shabbar from Australia, Stephanie Holmbo from New York
The prompt contest was incredibly successful.
I sincerely enjoyed reading each and every submission.
Next prompt contest coming in April!
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Message me at email@example.com if you are interested.
Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry; don’t walk barehead in the hot sun; cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil; soak your little cloths right after you take them off; when buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it doesn’t have gum on it, because that way it won’t hold up well after a wash; soak salt fish overnight before you cook it; is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school ?; always eat your food in such a way that it won’t turn someone else’s stomach; on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming; don’t sing benna in Sunday school; you mustn’t speak to wharf-rat boys, not even to give directions; don’t eat fruits on the street - flies will follow you; but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school; this is how to sew on a button; this is how to make a buttonhole for the button you have just sewed on; this is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and to prevent yourself from looking like the slut you are so bent on becoming; this is how you iron your father’s khaki shirt so that it doesn’t have a crease; this is how you iron your father’s khaki pants so that they don’t have a crease; this is how you grow okra - far from the house, because okra tree harbors red ants; when you are growing dasheen, make sure it gets plenty of water or else it makes your throat itch when you are eating it; this is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile at someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely; this is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast; this is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming; be sure to wash every day, even if it is with your own spit; don’t swat down to play marbles - you are not a boy, you know; don’t pick people’s flowers - you might catch something; don’t throw stones at blackbirds, because it might not be a blackbird at all; this is how to make a bread pudding; this is how to make doukona; this is how to make pepper pot; this is how to make a good medicine for a cold; this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child; this is how to catch a fish; this is how to throw back a fish you don’t like and that way something bad won’t fall on you; this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you; this is how to love a man, and if this doesn’t work there are other ways, and if they don’t work don’t feel too bad about giving up; this is how to spit up in the air if you feel like it, and this is how to move quick so that it doesn’t fall on you; this is how to make ends meet; always squeeze bread to make sure it’s fresh; but what if the baker won’t let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?
THANK YOU so much to those who submitted to the prompt contest. I am definitely going to do this again (probably April)…The winner will be chosen by the 22nd.
The delay is due to my participation in the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Columbus, Ohio this past week. The top 12 women go to finals and I placed 13th, which gave me the honor of sacrificing on final stage. I’ll post some on my favorite moments soon.
In addition to competing, I am doing FIVE shows in FIVE days. Come out and support!
She Speaks Poetry Slam
Cleveland, OH at Arts Collinwood
15601 Waterloo in the Waterloo Arts District
Doors at 5pm, Show at 6:30
Sierra DeMulder at the Gramercy Theater
New York City at Gramercy Theater Bar
127 East 23rd Street
Doors at 7pm, Show at 8:00
$10 to support the NYU Slam Team
Big-O Poetry Slam #81
Oneonta, NY at Lee Hall CME
SUNY Oneonta Campus - 8pm
Intangible Slam - Season 2 Episode 13
New York City at Lolita
266 Broome St
Doors at 7pm, Show at 8:00
Nuyorican Poet Slam
New York City at Nuyorican Poets Cafe
236 E. 3rd St. between Ave B and C
GET IN LINE EARLY (8:30pm)
Doors open at 10pm