Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

to the dispossessed, angelina

to the dispossessed, angelina 

would you raise your white russian

with hands whittled by decades 

fitting shift dresses at the maidenette

eyes, the same whirling milkiness 

as your trembling tumbler

long after they put you on aricept

and your daughters stopped dyeing your hair

would the residuum of your mercy 

curl like smoke out of the butt tower

and follow the chirr of cicadas and circular saws

from borough to borough

cape-cod style to superfund canal

passed the racetrack and its jittery slut, the otb

curlicuing around the bunned, beer-bellied missionaries 

outside of the meadery in a town 

with no bars and few jobs

although the industrious have 

gigs, gigs, gigs lined up

and over the ashen crosshatch she goes

fording the perilous rapids of the expressways

the baisley park projects

creaking catholic feasts

for seventeenth century saints

peddling fried dough and heaving furniture

to atheists and ms-13

in fugitive constellation around the unisphere

for as long as the orbit holds

and then whisked by the vertiginous flux 

of caribbean markets 

where cassava root and waxy breadfruit

sprout from blockbuster cassettes 

and then blossom into smoothie shops

from acorn to oak to acorn

before angelina

crouching between the bumpers 

of two parked cars

finds a crease in the ochre curtain 

cast by the streetlight

and heel to curb

uncertain and ferocious

pushes off, darting into the street

sidestepping the few remaining guardians

just able to find a pocket, duck a palm

and with a ragged mary jane

double-strapped, gold-toned buckle

send an empty folger’s can over the heads of lawn jockeys 

clearing the mesh perches of pigeon coops

and into the muggy gloaming

resetting the game

once and for all

and in so doing, her exaltation

no longer lost in some great wood

no longer confined to the empty ripples of her cataracts

to the meek

to the indigent

to the dispossessed, angelina

do you gracefully return

retracing your footsteps so that

sicilian strongholds become honduran high-rises 

become vast branches of oyster reef and coastal vineyard

becoming, finally

the branches of her own misfiring fibers

and before teddy can even put out the goldfish

and plug in the neon

you frown

and lower your glass

as if to say,

“i am a poor woman.

the only belongings i have left

that are truly my own

are my memories and my pain

and their cures are close

to consuming both.”

"A little about myself: I am an artist first and foremost, but over the years have paid the bills as an academic, grassroots organizer, and carpenter. I was born in Jamaica Queens (per capita one of the most diverse places on Earth) but have lived in rural Appalachia for the last ten years or so. I write about characters and from perspectives that are profoundly affected and disturbed by the many existential threats that define the 21st century: impending ecological disaster, the ceaseless brutality of neoliberalism/late stage capitalism, the collapse of truth, unifying narratives, and common values under the invasive expansion of information/communication technologies, and so on. With every poem, I attempt to process these overwhelming global and historical forces and circumstances through the prism of lived experience and winking humor.

When I first sat down to write the poem "to the dispossessed, angelina," I scribbled in my notebook, "what is it like to
live in a world without Angelina?" My grandmother had just passed away after years of suffering due to symptoms related to Alzheimer's disease. Angelina, or Anne as she was commonly known, was such an important part of
my upbringing, and I found the world somehow altered by her absence. In my mourning, I wrote furiously, and tried to imagine her as a constellation of memories washing over a New York landscape we both knew so well, a
landscape that was and is to this day so volatile and unforgiving for so many. This poem was the result of such reflection."

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