Salt Body Shimmer

Salt Body Shimmer delivers girls and women with their hearts and strides unbroken, however provoked by deadening violences. Aricka Foreman’s deft lyric is both canopy and camouflage, beyond able to outwork predators and the hard silences they will against laughter, booty clap, and no. Aricka Foreman’s debut collection declares its right to everyplace, finds its heroes, and offers “a spell for everything.” I’ve not read or heard poems like these. “Out of a grave vision,” Foreman condenses the accumulated pain of subjugations and raises a dazzling mist to cool our eyes, our tired flesh. —Ladan Osman, Exiles of Eden

Menarche Malarkey the Beginning the End

Neither of us were ready for it
My poor mother dealing The Talk
as the crisis came—sex and the bloom
that preceded it—like a war room
preparation She came with what she
knew: doctrines on the lathe of life,
how to hide secrets Ashamed of
the slick brown tributary, I tucked
the cotton into my pants pocket, sure
it’d be missed in the weekend wash
My poor mother, her hands full
of questions
                  when did it/ why hadn’t I/ the lies
falling from my mouth like dead stars
I held each cramp of shedding,
clotted tissue, scrubbed stains, hid
evidence How we’re taught to think
ourselves criminal, perpetuate
elaborate hoaxes: all witches,
sinners All women, witches:
maybe If I could go back, I’d ask
what’s in the blood? She’d say
of our miraculous machinery—
handing me a tampon, a divacup,
a wrench, a pick axe for this
business of ritual—listen, get to work

Does It Matter Who Is Your Redeemer

since the wired-eyed man couldn’t tell our home from the crack house next door: white as base when real good or dingy as aunt nora when she rolled back that rock The raggedy kids next door, always uninvited A rusted car grumbled and muffled them away For every flick’d pipe-flame, their mother spit out a pearl Their daddy’s greasy willows stuck to his days-stained shirt Through windows, wind snow sleet I’d hear them suckling that love affair until he smacked that then smacked her around Mema said she knew it was coming: the night glass groaned crash, my mother’s fire became higher, higher! I tried to pull beyond that loam of sleep, out of a grave vision Stretched my arms into brown vines crawling through the pitch, flames bright and hot as angels Crackle ashed our house clean My mother drug my limp-woke body down the drive like impatience is a virtue approximate to flight And fight How long it took to quash her rage: waiting on the engine men Waiting for my father For rain Mema says prayers need feet I count on my toes to ten, ten times til our house becomes a missing tooth in the night’s mouth

Mary Woodson Sets the Grits Straight

They remember the clumped hot

grain burning breakdowns into his back,

his comeback to God Third degree salvation

Through word-of-mouth I’m his Wife Girlfriend Lover

Who gets it right The pistol’s click-down

til the hole blew open a way to say no, not today

You crazy for that one Mary Which door we enter through

Museum of dollar store dames Thrift fur and wrong

diagnoses Light wanderers through wrought iron gates

Who needs who when legends need a fix Forget us

until we’re dead Revised inaccurate if written at all

Paranoid peony Pen us songs to sit us up right

Make me happy baby, weave your cry down

in your bones, let me sing baby crazy I can’t leave

your love alone Crazy which door threw: archway,

rot iron gait, nails bruised at the beds, scarlet and slick

Was I scratching my way to the beginning?

Not his heard degree burn

click down of the pistol’s clamor, they said

he wanted me to be his knife, his whirlfriend

A hole enough to let the static out We rarely

strut through the front dour Often, men

believe we have the keys to unlocking every ghost

they can’t bear to face

Breakbeat Aubade with Anemones and Lucky Fish

Waiting and waiting, death I kept waiting Despite
the world’s benevolent violence               Wants rich and long,

questions curled as cowrie See: a thousand lucky fish
              in the Grimoire of My Life   The wild language of air

sucked between teeth and the sibilance we submit to
              Is the body not for this If            Black writhe of being alive

What steel-clap hand, drunk bones and premonition:
sapid pelvis in translation, torso of trap and tropical bass

I slither and bend into every note I slip maestro,
              between your thresh and breakbeat,
sweat a sea of wild anemones Salt, so a deep song

Chest warm with the heat
              of our need and the menthol to come

High off echolocation, lights yellow the streets
                               Beneath green rooms, I slip off my thick flit

Between floors cumbia mouths my name,
says descend in and pay nothing

              Give up the veils between us
                                Ecstatic corona, I pierce

through the shrill season, against
                                Shudder Teem brink

Woman in line
                                with deliverance Fever

                And the February a body begs