Deus Ex Nigrum

With its flora crossing boundaries, Deus Ex Nigrum is, above all else, an invitation to bloom. This chapbook of poems holds a speaker remapping her body, which travels from a site of betrayal to one of renewal. Enacted here is an interlocution of self and body, a configuration outside of canonical human experience, a trans speaker who so finds posterity & futurity in the surround of human being: flowers, seasons, satellitic cyclings. These poems, forever embarking on the commute between monster and human, paint for us the hypervisibility and interior awe that accompany a trans femme’s movement through urban landscapes. Despite being rooted in Baltimore and Brooklyn, there is an unmistakable pull towards the botanical and the cosmic. These poems take us upwards and outwards, coiling and opening with a kaleidoscopic preference for synergy, oceania, and beauty. There is a persistent vulnerability which accumulates & allows the text to arrive upon a new speaker, one who knows herself & says, "here is who i am. i am. i am."

Commandments

Bright blues.
 Sea shorn by flecks of gold.
  Drown here. Make like a bottle
   & swallow my stories. Float
    unto shores I will never run,
   reach, or erode.
  Open. At the neck. Sing.
                   Something
baptismal
                    but without any tales
not evident in the blood.
  Not for nothing. I bleed
 for you. Believe in me.
I bleed.

Fishnet Monster Is Seen for the First Time in Harlem

Fishnet: monster on the 6 train:
even the East River couldn’t swallow:
birthed, in the attempt, & spat out

a misshape of colors & human clothes:
trick of dark skin & can’t explain itself:
don’t look like nobody’s child but the Sea’s.

Black Boy on the 6 train: never seen a fish
with human lips: looks to his mother & points:
bloodies: the pop-eyed windows to ugly Fishnet’s ugly

thoughts. trains collide at childhood. mouth a gash.
Black Boy’s eyes moon-up & pull the ocean
from Fishnet’s fur-matted face, legs, chest.

the Boy, though: his black naps spiral & swirl,
spiral & swirl: suck even the memory of water
from gills. Fishnetfreak flailing—no sound.

mouth a gash. Black Mother says nothing:
not her monster to love into a person:
not her ship-hung: not him. saltwater. Fishnet.

black sea hair: snakes & dead flowers.
Fishnet wants to cry but their distributary bare.
can’t go back. don’t work. Black Boys. mirrors. sus. out.

For Grace, for Grave

I paint my nails in Blue Heaven ’s soft colors
                                  the way a beast might saw its claws
                                  to dust the doorstep of spring.
                                  shed teeth, shorn beak laid down
                                  like an old blade begging
                                  for flowers, instead.

                                  call it burial
                                  if it means I am becoming soil.

                                  if I am more killable this way,
                                  more human, too.

                                  this prey in cropped cloth.
                                  this prey with no sharp.

                                  this way to the cat call.
                                  this way to the plucking.
                                  thick paws around the birdneck
                                  squeeze, squawk, squeeze.
                                  this way to the meat.
                                  this way to the beasts who do not ask
                                  permission or forgiveness.

                                  I begged forgiveness in my beakless way:
                                  lain out in a bed of snow
                                  spread eagle wide as surrender.

Instructions for the Moon

Go towards starshine
& meet me at dusk.
Tell me how blue you black
this body, this whole
coliseum of dust.
Take my stilled battlefield,
pounding rain over bruises, pulsing.
Now a field of heartbeats. Open
the window & let your yestershine
in. We, too, exchange whole crops
of bright. You make the wind
worth swaying to. Here:
my ear-dip the brightest point
of the constellation you utter

with the wet of a tongue-
sized interstellar touch. You

bring out the sea in me, so wade.
Wade in this.

Wade Swim Walk

my first pair of panties
floats idly in the sea
of memory, flashes please,
please me

                    liquid eyeliner pen, black tube
                    of lip stain, mascara brush
                    like a clutch of turtles furreting
                    further from the gauntlet of shore

in the sea: memories
froth & spit
their pebbled laughter
                 He
                 He
                 HeHeHeHeHeHeHeHeHeHeHe

                 I stand on the water & walk
                 lips a-glitter over the blue of drowning
                 heels, three-inches & starflowered
                 a pleated orbit of black dress

                 ring-around-the-moon earrings
                 cream-of-cloud-colored nails
                 with no need for wind
                 my eyes a line with wings

sure
                 anything could kill me
                 given the pollution of galaxy & industry

shore
                 you could buffet me with stones
                 but what when I say I was raised from dust