for Sakia Gunn

Sakia, if you had the weapon of your last name,
I would not know you. This steady scrape
against paper to transport fecund lament, never.
If in your hands the pearl-handled gun

my stepfather kept in the broom closet—
I'd give you the aim I practiced at twelve.
“Home is where the heart is” marks an
average man’s forehead and the trashcan
is somewhere near his jewels.

If you brought me roses in high school,
wrapped in newspaper to protect me from thorns,
I would take them, and wash ink from my fingers
in the jeans and jersey flood of your girlboy body.
Let me be your girl.

4-evah 2 eternity onto my back.
Your finger's ballpoint end, again and again
practices the heart over i, and into the morning
we stash whispers where over thread, thread crosses.
I promise

I have impeccable aim.
Pulling a trigger loosens mustangs
in your veins. Piss into my mortar—an old war
recipe makes bullets complete. Let your shower
wash an asshole from the streets.

If blood quickly betrays its avenues
for Newark's sidewalks, his shirt tires of its thirst....
If his buddy drives him to the hospital
or leaves him to watch the night unspool—
what a Jacob's Ladder he makes...

If you're shocked your life requires this exchange,
come into my arms, Sakia. Come into my arms.

from You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened (Augury Books, 2016) by Arisa White. Copyright © 2016 by Arisa White. Used with permission of the author.

para mi abuela en la isla

A hurricane destroyed your sense of home
and all you wanted was to pack your bags
in dead of night, still waving mental flags,
forgetting the nation is a syndrome.
All that’s left of the sea in you is foam,
the coastline's broken voice and all its crags.
You hear the governor admit some snags
were hit, nada, mere blips in the biome,
nothing that private equity can’t fix
once speculators pour into San Juan
to harvest the bad seed of an idea.
She tells you Santa Clara in ’56
had nothing on the brutal San Ciprián,
and yes, your abuela’s named María.

Thoughts of Katrina and the Superdome,
el Caribe mapped with blood and sandbags,
displaced, diasporic, Spanglish hashtags,
a phantom tab you keep on Google Chrome,
days of hunger and dreams of honeycomb.
Are souls reborn or worn thin like old rags?
The locust tree still stands although it sags,
austere sharks sequence the island’s genome
and parrots squawk survival politics
whose only power grid is the damp dawn.
There is no other way, no panacea.
Throw stuff at empire’s walls and see what sticks
or tear down the walls you were standing on?
Why don’t you run that question by María?

Beyond the indigenous chromosome,
your gut genealogy’s in chains and gags,
paraded through the colonies’ main drags
and left to die. So when you write your tome
please note: each word must be a catacomb,
must be a sepulcher and must be a
cradle in some sort of aporía
where bodies draw on song as guns are drawn,
resilient, silent h in huracán.
Your ache-song booms ashore. Ashé, María.

Copyright © 2018 by Urayoán Noel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 13, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.