POEM

AZIZA BARNES

he tells me in mississippi the only laws broken concern meth & obesity. i’m at the dude ranch listening to a black man from Oxford rap a genocide is a genocide his 40 acre ballad. land & we want to put our feet in the dirt alive. this blonde soror wobbles into me hey & the drawl hits the rim of her Coors Light so you’re not bi? her lips are 2 sheets of bible paper you’re nervous? it’s cause I’m from Mississippi, right? i ask her if she has a name i can call her. it’s Nancy & she tells me i’m going to have a hard time down here. her shirt is a scarf that falls off every time she shouts woohoo!
she could’ve been anywhere tonight the other queer black woman says to me a Keith Urban concert, anywhere. my lipstick looks like shoeshine polish on her chin & around us are approximately 7 shrines to white Jesus. they’re mostly ironic says the mississipians.

in my bed & alone a black thing falls out a crack in my white ceiling, a cockroach that can fly! let’s all get in bed with the queer black yankee fuck! her androgynous sex her minstrel shuck shuck all down my chin don’t cancel my order ship that bitch back to me live! it got to the point where chattel was less fuckable. consent is the mule we never got. a roach wakes me up by crawling on my arm & a black man in queens new york tells me he’s envious at least he gets to touch you.

let’s lay hands on her said the lord.
let’s lay hands on her said the soror.
let’s lay hands on her said the black man.
let’s lay hands on her said the roaches that could fly.

the blade is in his hand & coming up the back of my neck when he says, Abbesville is how you would pronounce it. there’s a bale of cotton on a shelf next to 4 basketball trophies next to a TV broadcasting Soul Plane. across the street is a Rebel flag waving over a detention center behind a Methodist church on MLK Drive. i miss the simplicity of cartoons. a big sign that reads JAIL above one, far from anywhere you could get a haircut or baptism. when black men hit a certain age they’re 45 in the face forever & one such man in his gator loafers & no front teeth slides up to me something cool & says I often find myself in the strip club. i say I don’t go outside if I can help it. we are both here paying a man with the surname Isaiah to touch us. blade in hand behind our ears until the cut is clean. on Soul Plane the older white dude catches a case presumably his first of seeing a Black woman’s ass come down slow into a seat behind the 99 cent store adjacent to the Popeyes. his Jones for discount meat. i’ve never felt a bowl of cotton in my hands. the plastic command of a basketball trophy means we made it. we laid hands on it. a woman naked on a pole then is a bale of cotton. a detention center is a basketball trophy yielded from a harvest of church. the 99 cent store is a blade coming up the neck of sacrificed chicken grease. all the poles we pray to burn perm-like on every MLK mandated Avenue. my hair shorn & ankle bound is void of memory. if the eternal 45 year old in his gators saw fit to lift my hair from where it laid after I paid Isaiah what was his, for the knife, for the pronunciation, that would be another thing I’d never feel.

AZIZA BARNES is blk & alive. Born in Los Angeles, Aziza currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi. Her first chapbook, me Aunt Jemima and the nailgun, was the first winner of the Exploding Pinecone Prize and published from Button Poetry. Her first full length collection i be but i ain’t, is forthcoming from YesYes Books March 2016.