We begin with a desire to devour.
I am a citizen of want, my body
a country of bruises from your teeth.
I am happy to pay in sweetness
as long as it is you who takes
my lips. Once, upon coming
to a clearing, we hurriedly shed
our clothes, feral things whose
vocabulary knows no waiting.
I am happy to be here before you,
palms up, wanting and being wanted.
Once more, and once again.
Someone once took me to bed
and wanted to fuck in the dark.
I was a body and yet not a body.
Someone mistook me for not being
me when they read my words but forget
my name. Where do I hide my shame?
I was a body and almost somebody.
We damn well know: to be brown is
to always be guilty of being brown.
Who wouldn’t want this,
hands around my throat,
hands that cup my breasts,
hands that grip my hips.
Let me whisper confessions
to the shadows on your skin:
When I see your open mouth
I hear the selfsame howl from
deep in my womb: I am your
leviathan among the woods.
This is what it means to shiver
beneath someone’s gaze,
your possession teaching me
the length of my spine.
Who wouldn’t want you,
telling me you’re home
and safe from standing
before an invisible firing line.
In the subway, at the pharmacy,
at the grocery, in the park:
when have we ever known
what it means to be apart.
No one can stop me
from holding your hand,
not even the demons that
corrupt their heart.
Would that there be a menagerie
inside your warm body for every
living thing that you might have been:
the tenderness of a butterfly, perhaps,
or the startling softness of a bird.
A sweet longan.
How do you conjure
an ever after. I wish
nothing more than
to follow where this leads.
Our bodies uncurl from the core
and everything hurts
while we stand in line at the bank,
or when we walk across the street
to get to our door.
When they call you names
or when they call mine,
I will always want you
whispering in my ear:
Why not right here.
Oh, husk that houses who I am!
Almond eyes, thick thighs,
and every ember that has
settled on my dark skin.
I want your wildness—
and damn the rest of them.
- 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C SLowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones