The Black Woman’s Tears Swap Meet Is Open Every Day

Douglas Kearney

some black women are my friends & their tears seem the hems
                           of blue dresses.   I ball un-ball
my pocketed palms
                           & think on stockings, bells.

among my students sometimes number black women—
I wish their tears were rungs;  such desire may too be grease,                tho.

my mother’s youngest sister’s torn calendar tears,
             Mondays, Marches, 29ths, ’91s & ’83s
till wicker bins choke, shredder hacks.

a couple of tears, middle sister pinches at her eye,
a black woman’s spyglass. she peers
through the wide between her &.

my older cousins, black women, their tears are:
             (a)  fresh batteries in broken clocks
             (b)  ruined coin souvenirs
             (c)  wheatbread heels jim crowed in fridges
             (d)  what pitted the yellow linoleum thus

the black mother of the black woman who married me,
her tears’re sunk ships:
coral polyps load the lode  & awful hopeful at it.

...!!!] then I’m at last quiet.
                                       my daughter, black girl, rattles,
at me, her scabbard of tears.


my younger cousins, black women, their tears are:
            (a)  pill bottles
            (b)  in pill bottles
            (c)  lids you press down, then turn to loose
            (d)  anything bottled & near bathroom mirrors

likely my father’s oldest sister, black woman,
kept her tears where they’d pass for shotgun:
            slant shade the jamb threw as simmering mask.
 
            my father’s other sister, her tears stop his mouth,
or they’re wood doves, cote’d in his chestnut mind?

grandmother, my black father’s mother? gone.
her tears were empty chairs: pine
                                                  among pine-ware.

white bowl      though the rice there was tears of my great aunt,
black woman.

these days, my grandmother, black woman who mothered my               mother,
mislays her tears—she always finds them in the,
                                                            finds them in,
                                                            finds them—.

the black woman who married me,
her tears inside her out like black church stockings   /     runs.

& my black mother dead.

More by Douglas Kearney

The Irregular and/or Anti- and Ante- Regulative

Did not but didn’t not or did not not did? Woke up 
a rando hour in that ol’ double-bind of suspicions of 
activity (didn’t not did, did not’d). No sich thang ez 
reppytishun. Didn’t not not’d no such thing as. Only 
insistence, amplification of. Rigor, please!—I’ve 
been in a steady residency studying doing sans 
getting done (-) in. When abroad for the 
conference RE: conspiratorial unsuspicious 
activity, I insisted our syncopated metrics tender 
on the International Measure Exchange. To the 
registration: “Our data tight AF, Boo-Boo; toot 
sweet with my tote bag,” my lanyard swang Jesus 
piecey as I crooked bootied to the keynote. I sat in 
the not doing of doing what I did not. By&by 
came Q&A, I Q’ed: “can self-disciplined inactivity 
be considered inactivity as the disciplining of the 
self is a praxis and—.” In come Security a rented 
roughshod, all There they are, misconjugating where 
I stood. I stayed to rephrase my Q. I believed this 
a discourse. Security fixed to quantize my “offed” 
conduct with they copse of batons. I was a present 
ruckus, recused for actively inactivating me by 
vice and versa. This collabo took the discipline to 
the next level!

Related Poems

it was a dream

in which my greater self
rose up before me
accusing me of my life
with her extra finger
whirling in a gyre of rage
at what my days had come to.
what, 
i pleaded with her, could i do,
oh what could i have done?
and she twisted her wild hair
and sparked her wild eyes
and screamed as long as
i could hear her
This.  This.  This.