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The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2021

All Issues
MAY 2021 Issue
Poetry

from mahogany


love me



dear grace jones
why did your blood stop
singing its sweet song
i know this hurts
you have not now
nor ever been
a citizen
of the united states
welcome to the party
let’s party like the 70s
our external wars
in the black power sense
sitting there reciting
your own
damn worth
i would rather die
penniless and naked
in the jungle
how all of a sudden
we are black
since black panther came out
shout out to your money
and al green though
sugar and grits
the end
of my ability
to handle
my own suffering
i’m pretty sure
that toni morrison quote
was not penned
as a casual invitation
for whiteness
to explain itself
i don’t need anyone else
fucking up
my goddamn heart
you mean the horrible
things you want
or your personal reality
spirit choker
i stand on these
the historically fractured 
what is right
in front of you
this recording
is so beautiful
thank you for sharing it
i hope you are well
that the disciples of sun ra
blew your mind
i just need
some good dick and advice
to once again
become
a thing that feels









i believe in fairytales



there are things that should be said
i have felt
like a firehouse
it is a serious thing
to be alive
on this flesh
burning morning
in this broken ass
world
electric sky church
jimi i been thinking about you
and your nappy head
the fresh air
inhaled
after a summer
of drowning
i sleep
but choose the irrevocably
broken image
of my old boss
supervising everything i do
my father person
shaking his head
the old love of my life
turning me away
but always saying
i love you
but you never did
in this STAYHOME
i find me one more time
there are some moments
when i’m happy
but i know nothing
about fits of joy
welcome to the new ok
art deco bronze jesus
fun like ice cream
our common humanity
so very young
in this week of familiar pain
we are jealous of what
we fear we cannot
give to ourselves
yesterday’s gesture
is tomorrow’s
revolution
the joy
we think
we do not
deserve
without you
i get kind of lost
in the world
and need reminders
scream so loud
i can taste
my entire life
i mean i love you
but you always
want too much









my spirit was free



it is the year of return
to open the wounds
where there are no songs
but nigga heal thy self
summer was trash
cotton vintage
white grinding
and freshly washed sheets
misread “grateful” as “chateau”
the ghost dance
duty bound to be real
time regained
you are lucky
all we want
are reparations
and not revenge
our summer
should never
have been over
dear god
please put my head above my heart
i just want to crawl in bed
with a whole pie and a fork
and watch PBS
because it is quite rare
to recover shackles
from a wreck
when i see
my mom
i see god
fucking force of nature
it pains me to reflect
on my loss of purity
the erasure of black
cowboys
let me be clear
all of your black friends
if you have any
are emotionally drained
seventy five percent
of all illnesses
are self-induced
i call this shit
post traumatic growth
you leave a little
bit of blood
in every room
vaguely seeking
material "proof"
of god, life after death, etc.
seriously think of ways
to gradually return
to the world
bats, the only mammal
capable of true flight
as blessed as i am cursed









i'm like a woman who once knew splendor



sometimes i feel like the pink panther
all naked and pink
lost in the morass of
do the best you can today
and nigga heal thy self
our end of winter
spirits break
like old tibetan snow
i remember
you was conflicted
and i found myself alone
here on my ancient hurt
the disquieting hum
of living history
dear god, please
put my head above my heart
we can only be together
if the stories are told
plain face
same instrument
just a couple of coke bottles
full of gasoline
like god and rain
is a waste of time
my mother used to clean houses
as a child
some days i can barely
get out of bed
in my mind
she’s like diana ross
scrubbing the white lady’s stairs
in lady sings the blues
except prettier
and with green eyes
i've just been living
off of cough drops
and water and anger
just sitting in the whole foods
parking lot eating pineapple
i am literally
the definition of "hot mess"
pain changes everything
somebody come
and pick up
my limp body
off the ground
i am dying
a slow ohio death
we miss you starman
it’s our first sunrise of the burn

Contributor

erica lewis

erica lewis was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her books include the precipice of jupiter (2009, with artist Mark Stephen Finein), camera obscura (2010, with artist Mark Stephen Finein), murmur in the inventory (2013); and the first two books of the box set trilogy: daryl hall is my boyfriend (2015) and mary wants to be a superwoman (2017). Her chapbooks have been published by Belladonna, Lame House Press, and After Hours/The Song Cave.

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The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2021

All Issues