No matter the rush of undertow everything else is still here. I scrawl your name at the bottom of the river I sing it and it sings me back. What I’d give for a name so keen it whittles the valleys of my neck. I’m forever drenched in this night, and you no longer exist. The river catches the sky’s black, ink meant to preserve a memory. I stay because it’s easy. Here. I relive what you did to me, find myself again in the water—swollen and sullen as a bruise. I trace and retrace, graffiti every river’s bank, drown into ecstasy instead of moving on with my life. I wear what you did to me like gills, a new way to breathe. I jump into the river for days. I forget I have lungs at all.
Copyright © 2019 by Noor Ibn Najam. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Our father becomes one. Barrel-Chested with Longboard seeks Mate. King Father is dating. Long live the King. He asks out colleagues, neighbors, strangers he meets at Spazzio’s Jazz Night, Zuma Beach. He dates the moonlight, his reflection, the long-ago that got away. The King says Why the hell shouldn’t I get what I’ve longed for? Nip waist, taut tum. Where is she? His exile from the good stuff. You girls can’t imagine the pain you’ll cause men. Nope, we don’t & we can’t yet but we do know the King cannot consider us worthy. How could he? As women, we fail him daily. Love, I’m learning, is peeling your mind from your body, throwing one or both sad sacks of self out to sea. Love is blood & our father. I give no inch. I judge the world from the margins of diaries. Men are the problem with everything. King Father slices lemons from our lemon trees. Citrus grows in the grove beneath my bed. Mom lived in our guesthouse for three years before leaving. She peeled herself slowly off his heart like a scab. What is the point of such maiming? Now the King isn’t careful when he walks by the branches. He barges through trees & their thorns. King Single can’t remember his heart soft & rindless. The new women are beautiful, or not, or enough to get by. I watch him take a lover. She is insane. The king peels a lemon, lays each slice on her plate. She requests lime. He hands us whole fruits when we eat at the table. He takes his longboard to the ocean, kicks flat water into waves.
Copyright © 2018 Cait Weiss Orcutt. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Fall-Winter 2017.
Copyright © 2019 by Omotara James. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.