Cynthia Manick | Poem

Praise for Luke Cage’s Skin and Starshine

…………….You know what it’s like to be night
……..all the time, don’t you? Others have
…………to wait for that artificial glow
via backlight or tanning booth. But you
……are an element that can’t be spliced,
………………..quantified. I like you bulletproof
………and free, you make wanting to live
..a life legal, where eyes can stay wide and
……………….hungry, not sad.

………..Everywhere you go black boys
……follow, try to scoop the cells
…………and selves left behind. Some have
tiny magnifying glasses and mini plastic
………..cups. And when something is found,
…….they watch it like seeds ready to sprout
……….wings or leaves of comic book power.
…….Others take their loot, rub it along their
….hairline and edges like it’s part pomade
…………….part starshine.

And I resist the urge to join the queue.
……..Cause those light-skinned boys keep
their love too high for my skin’s reach.
……Your Cage would have me moon rapt,
……….wondering how a rooster moans,
……and if my own father ever thought I
………was beautiful. We’d walk through Harlem–
……………….you in a fitted suit, and me wearing
……anything-I-damn-well-please, until
…..rain or movie magic turns us
…….into one body, the right shade of
………….Bernie Mac black.

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10 introvert confessions while trying to bloom in shade

1
Sometimes when I enter a room, I pretend Zamunda
from Coming to America is a real place. Everything
in my view is petal fused and brown-plated like fire.
No one is surprised by my eloquence or penchant for off-
key song.

2
I pretend the phone is dying, so you can’t hear me
lie to you about wanting to go out.

3
A friend said humans are made out of dead stars.
So technically we’re not here all the time. Part of us is
always searching, always elsewhere, using muscle
memory to take us home.

4
Do birds have different dialects? Could a Brooklyn
bird chirp to a Manchester bird? Or would there be confusion?

5
Fixating on grace, I try to learn the proper names for
veins and which one leads to the left atrium. Egyptians
wear wedding rings on the middle finger of the left
hand, because that vein goes straight to the heart. My
right hand is bigger than the left.

6
The blind scare me. There’s too much investment in
touch. Their hands can see every dark space i’ve tried
to hide. On sidewalks, do I offer to help or by not helping
do I hinder their passage? I always cross the street.

7
I want every brown boy to carry a red carpet in their
backpack or messenger bag. An unobtrusive person will
lay it down when they enter a room. They’ll strut like
a spry beautiful hen, so they never learn to go phantom.

8
I worry about the darkest Huxatables. Did they ever
learn how to ask for what they want? They were never
too young for music, but they couldn’t dance the dark
out.

9
There are odes to sun salutations but no poems about
Entenmann’s on sale in winter. How we teach the
butter knife to say amen over each slice. Everyone
has a favorite.

10
I’ll know our love is real when the caution goes. We be brick
and sea shell. Your nails untrimmed, my feet dry cause
its winter. In the background, the news plays like a song.

.

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Cynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). A Pushcart nominee with a MFA in Creative Writing from the New School; she has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, Poets House, MacDowell Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center among others. A winner of the 2016 Lascaux Prize and a 2017 Barbara Memorial Fund Award for Poetry, her work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day Series, African American Review, Callaloo, Muzzle Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.

2017-11-29T23:34:16+00:00 November 29th, 2017|