I’m thinking, what would happen
if I started masturbating on this subway car?
It’s late. An African man next to me
is reading the president’s book.
Drinks tonight with an older poet
who told me that Winnie the Pooh
is the same as Homer Simpson and
he is correct.
I have been leaving space
on one side of the bed
which gives me sad dreams.
(Reader, please know
when I say bed I mean sex.)
You give me a reason to get up
in the afternoon. To believe in
what elders call having church.
In my sleep I try to persuade you
to fall in love with me. I also do this
while watching Turner Classic Movies
and wishing I had enough
money for a country house.
I am infinitely comforted by thunder, how
it is connected to my dog,
growling in his sleep.
I am close to the darkness
of Lowell, Massachusetts, where women
have cried and worked.
Men in pants like that
holding my hands like that.
If I call you brother
instead of bro, it’s because I am overtaken
by the need to annunciate and pronounce.
It does not mean you are my brother
who never calls me back
and most recently was featured in a dream
about a giant silver vagina,
the centerpiece of a parade.
Who did not recognize
the puffy costume as a vagina
because my unconscious prefers him to be
You might think this makes me nervous,
or concerned, the way mothers feel
when their children take too many
years to speak, but I’m not.
I am more comfortable
being mourned than loved.
I feel my death: it is tucked
inside my ear like an itch
or a bad idea.
It’s too late for coffee, or reason, or capability.
Maybe if I knew my grandmother
and the white family she worked for,
I would feel different
about everything around me.
Instead I can only describe half
of the view outside the kitchen window.
Brown curtains are covering
the other half and I don’t mind it.
The past has not been as rewarding
as I had hoped.
Instead it feels
like something dark and hard is back there.
Something I want to spit up
like a stringy peach.
Morgan Parker‘s first collection of poems, Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, was selected by Eileen Myles for The 2013 Gatewood Prize and is forthcoming from Switchback Books. Recent poems are forthcoming from Tin House, The Atlas Review, and Forklift, Ohio. A graduate of NYU’s Creative Writing MFA program and a Cave Canem fellow, Morgan lives in Brooklyn, where she is Education Director at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA). She also lives at at www.morgan-parker.com.
“Epistolary Poem for Reader, Brother, Grandmother, Men (Or, When I Say I Want To Spit You Up)‘ was originally published in Painted Bride Quarterly ‘s Issue 86.