After Jana Lynne Umipig
Capitulo lullabye. I dreamscape mesmerized
by ruination sky. Inordinate and restful like
Catch me in the morning
and I fleck. As in, as shock,
the intro only
masquerades: we’re in the middle since. At play, at effervesce
glow-tide my destination, journey hurts my name:
don’t be questing me, don’t labyrinth my style. I pathway
like gamayan, macadamia frog-leg in a rice paddy with lime. In agarbathi
smoke—I float. Kalabaw-
English when I shop. Chop
because I’m hungry, chop chop like
the rendezvous’s the pathway and the crossroads
what you smuggle. I put this on your blood,
dapple skulls with ancestry and chime. Straggle, grandchild,
if you want to live.
There are an estimated 560 million beetles for every human on Earth
All you need is love, little guy, shiny
beetle, tiny god nestled in your green
carapace. You mirror back my love, you
don’t let me down as you crawl all over
every little thing on this planet, all
four hundred thousand of your known species.
Good morning, good morning! Every dawn you’re
here, there, and everywhere. When I see you,
I feel fine knowing you’re oblivious,
just doing your beetle things. Even when
kicked around by human feet, you dears just
let it be, just carry on, go nowhere
man can reach. And would you believe that I
need you, bug, more than any human soul?
Oh! Darling, it’s true. So let me watch you
pace along this sidewalk. Here comes the sun
quietly rising. If in its shine or
rain, I’ll just kneel here transfixed. Because there’s
something in the way you move that makes the
two of us one world not found across the
universe, what Donne called an everywhere.
Voracious little thing, eat up my time.
What else do I need but you, you nearly
xenomorphic gem? Human life is so
yesterday. I believe in you. I’m your
zealot—your hysterical, screaming fan.
is that dead dog’s collar you keep
in the drawer of unusables
along with the hardened super
glue, a remote control for channels
long cancelled & the lock
of a stolen bicycle. Guilt is circular,
yes, tattered & sturdy, comfortable
in its choking. The problem is you
remember everything. The problem is guilt
has a cuteness to it, a breathing
innocence: a time
of distended bellies, of gnawing
because new teeth hurt so damn much. You find
it over & over—while furiously looking
for your ankle brace or the spare
set of car keys—& your heart drops
at the sight of those ridiculous, perfectly
orblike blue whales, smirking
whales printed on the collar
& did I say guilt
is round? Guilt looks like it would stink
from here to the highest heaven, but it’s been
washed & again so many times
it just smells stale. It warns
that death’s face is a puppy.
You must remind yourself that those sad
eyes are just a product of evolution.
Guilt is nothing
if we don’t offer it our necks.
Guilt is a tool, it allows what walks
us to never ever let go. How
is all this power held together
by a buckle of the cheapest plastic?
Did I say guilt is a loop?
Public Enemy at full volume en route
to a New Hampshire summer, is tongue in cheek
gospel like the yellow and green colorway
Nikes dad got from the back of that pick-up,
bootleg Huey P. Newton in a Lacoste
polo shirt. Kids said fake and you got angry,
not because they poked or questioned what was real
but because you didn’t know and you should’ve.
Life lessons come at different ages for
different folks. You’re five and mom sits you down
to explain why kids made fun of you and why
you shouldn’t be ashamed. You’re fifteen and think
the only reason your bi-racial friends are
confused is because they never had that talk.
You’re twenty and curbed use of the word sellout,
opting for we’re all in this together fam.
Know there are limits, trying to prove yourself.
Hat backwards, baggy shorts and that certain swag
you picked up from years of practice. The cute girls,
just far enough away to think their whispers
are safe, debate themselves: what you think he is?
You lose the point in the tennis match and you
get angry, not because they distracted you
but because they didn’t know and someone should.
Her hand sharp in the small of Hagar’s back, Sarai, that barren
punster, pimped her handmaid to her husband, saying, “As I am barren
please consort (bo-na, in Hebrew) with her” by literally saying,
“I shall be built up (ibaneh) through her.” A barren
women can still be clever, though rabbis tea-leaved this to imply
a childless woman is a ruined structure in need of rebuilding. Barren,
however, was not a ruin forced on us, but a path my wife and I have chosen. A choice
not so much against a child as for other things—our art, each other: a life barren
only of all we’ll never know. God said, “I’ll call you
by a different name and your destiny shall change.” Sarai, barren,
had no children but Sarah did. Mom is a name I’ve cried times beyond counting,
yet is a name I’ll never be called—less a name than a state of being; once borne,
innate as DNA. “Wife” or “writer,” though, are titles non-familial,
vocational, requiring daily upkeep, a renewal of Yes, I will still bear
this—and be stronger for it? Who can say. Perhaps we’ll end up
most defined by what we are not. Yet bared
by the roof of our ruined structure, we count the countless stars, grow
our shared life in place of bearing
a new one. Because before Sarah and even before Sarai
was the first of the three names she’d eventually bear:
Iscah, whose root might be sakhta, “saw,” which would make her sight a prophet’s,
divinely inspired, or is sokhin, a duller lot, meaning all “gazed upon” her beauty: barren
Iscah—precursor to the name Jessica—like all women, torn between being a seer
and being the one seen. So, prophet, tell me: Is the only happy ending really a baby?