(another) Ithaca

— ‘fore and after toni morrison

731 was sulking. Brimming with children’s sighs and cutting eyes. As our mother made us watch how Kunta Kinte became
And it was only day one of the miniseries, an eight-day odyssey to Northeast Elementary humiliation: feathered hair from nested homes architecturally digested, and seeking ivy, to our basement apartment up in Cayuga Heights. Each morning my eyes cast oblivion. I mitered my jaw flush to words unmeasured while my pitcher ears sank into wells full of echoes, unborn syllables, molten sounds like lamped lava:
red as chokecherry, as a rooster’s comb, that iron taste now on my husked tongue, the flavor of timeless shame. Everyone was watching; record ratings the nightly news informed. Haley’s tale made them all look up and stare — a little Malcolm goes a long, long way. He tap, tap, tapped his name to submerged unrecalled stowage, sixty million and more…
(kilroy was here too)
And I am lost again and again in Sapsucker Woods, sanctuary to studied birds like my silent heart. I hid in the clearings, reconstructing longhouses in an archipelago from fallen logs and a sea of dried leaves, instead of cardboard, moss and paste. My own private ithaca, a terrarium, to wait out a season suspended in disbelief, landlocked. What a maroon … Maybe one of the Five Nations, the Haudenosaunee, would have me. We could do the shadow dance that binds all castaways as one. When in Rome, West Indian might be close enough. We are all running out of time, and running out of a place. But, like these put upon rocks, a dense white history has carved, and moved the First Peoples of Peace out of reach.
Cascadilla, take me away — carry me up your gorgeous shale, a blue stairway to … Carl, where is my lodestar? Am I too far from Wheat Street AME Zion to see? Does your telescope even have the power enough to show me? Or, will she, find me? Will she track every rail road trail raft each river passage above, middle and under ground; will she string my bare invisibility bulb together with that longer line of improvising light, the glare ablaze, one more cellar come foundry and press where the type is set and a forged pen hammers notes; will her illumination fill my eyes with land and its distance beyond, as I lay dreaming wild horses, a lighthouse lit and blinking a catechism in code? Or, will she just call me beloved, so I may prepare for
my own brand of visitations?
(Years later someone will call me out my name, black athena, and no one will understand he meant bitch. One more whitewash, and manrinse will make me play Mentor in absentia.
Everyone will listen and they will twitter.
Nevertheless, it is true I was cranium born, twice named, weaned on island wisdom, raised on high, and ready to rumble. Girl made boy made girl gone daddy gone, best run lola run girl — la warrior femme fatale negrita undercover, under aegis, under your thin skin. The gods and men undress women, and the goddess. They besmirch, and siphon her true and ancient properties, make ciphers her songs. Her muse in history. Bury my heart atop Lucifer Falls. I have many more as lethal as love in my quiver. Their aim is always friendly fire.)

Not everything can be drowned in saltwater by ocean, by tears. Memory can grow gills and limbs, crawl out primordial and new; dapple glaze in the sun; revel and chafe in grit like mollusks wander and brew pearls with their tongue in foot, carrying on their backs their spit sampled armor, their shell shocked

Scratching out the City

From City Spaces: Filling in Berlin’s Gaps; Translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire

An Island

“I’m as well off here as anywhere. Wherever I was, there’d still be the want of you.”

Misty Light 120s

“Misty Light 120s are the most glamorous cigarettes.”