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by Tyehimba Jess

Looking into the mouth of this poem,
I’m stranded on the breakneck teeth,
the gap toothed song I’ve forged
between breaths, the neon
no-tell motel of personal history
paying flop house rent to my ego:
Thunderbird Inn on 87th & Stony Island Ave
where I fondled the darkness that was full
of my sweet dread headed woman’s lips,
the one who knew all the rooms
and anterooms to my lying ass
lies better than myself — her open door
policy to my revolving hellos.  I breathed
in the scent of her hair like my own
private opiate for my own private mass,
and the cathedral of X-rated channels
bathing us in everything we knew
we could sing against the water-
stained ceiling. I’d like to tell you
this scene in the liquid bass
of the box-and-bubble Caprice
snaking through the parking lot
lights: She’s searching my body
for truth within the cottage industry
of Saturday Night moan filtering through
the shallow sheetrocked walls, and
I’ve got the blackout curtains shut
against Chicago’s muffled stars.
I’m raising her hips above me
like a fool’s crowning glory,
like she might know the way back
through the city’s grid-ironed streets
to where we first found ourselves
lakeside, staring at the moon,
stunned before the mouth
of the universe that was set
to kiss us whole.




Poem copyright 2019 by Tyehimba Jess. All rights reserved.

See two more poems from Tyehimba Jess debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle:
Tatum Summer”  and  “It’s Tie-EEM-bah

Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

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