They ask what I believe in—
Sour milk: the curdle & butter of it
Baby’s breath ragged with phlegm
The green sheen clinging to her skin like algae
The bone & teeth of us mossy and alive with DNA
But what’s your religion, they’re after—
What gods do you pray to?
The frilly curtains of her laughter
remodeling alla my pain
Oh, how she adorns this house of mine
So god’s a woman? (hands on they hips)
How water ain’t a woman
the way she make your thirst
her temperamental breasts
& everywhere everything everyone everywhichway—water
Well, who your altars honor?
The ghosts that inhabit us
& all the evidence of them:
double vision—floaters flecking
our periphery when we look away
from the light—all the mouths
at the bottom of our stomach—
Ever wonder why we eat two plates
& still hungry? Or how our anger
multiplies in seconds like a kitchen
of negro roaches? Yes, even the roaches
have melanin black/brown with the spirits
of wayward witches I burn candles
& pour brown liquor out for my bitches
& they glorious golden auras
To what churches do you tithe?
Our Lady of Ladled Magnificence
God of Ghetto Grace Incorporated
Our Mother Who Art in Harlem
House of Regurgitated Resurrections
Have you ever been possessed?
We ain’t never not been owned
not with all that restless bone
sediment at the bottom of the Atlantic
wonder why we frantic with personalities
How we sing with three throats
bending notes weeping willow
What are trees if not spirits
weeping & dancing simultaneous?
How we dipped our nooses in gold
& hung crosses from them
& wore them like shiny portable altars
How is there not a church in our chests?
How our breasts leak gospel truth
How our teeth ache with the blood of Jesus
Who, then, is your muse?
(pointing) ain’t she a muse amusing
a maze amazing amazon
of our dreams prisms that fracture
into auras & auras that fragment dimensions
Isn’t mourning a religion, then?
Like how all these feelings grow
muscles & flex & jerk inside of me
Like how they can’t kill us even when
they hands scream bloody murder
Like how we show up wearing white
just to spite them—spit at the pulpit
of bullshit & Babylon How we eat
bibles for breakfast Leviticus & grits
Our souls sizzling in the skillet like gizzards
What is the geography of your grief?
Everywhere they are & ain’t
painting the block milk white & sickly
a tricky bluish tint (think: veins under skin)
a sticky blues a blush blood—bluing the block black
Copyright © 2019 by t'ai freedom ford. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 22, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.