by Dominique Christina

Find the woman with three
Murdered sons and ask her
About the cockfight,
The deep door of Haiti
The have-mercy shriek
From overgrown graves,
The snare,
The crouching,
The bulge of sea

Ask her what prayers
She muscles through
What god she hallucinates, now
In the dark
In the deep of it,
Ask her if the island is
The victory or
The defeat…
Ask her if it matters
When she is always hungry-

You see that boy in the road?
He is named for Toussaint.
The warrior-king who swung
His sword to loose the bones
Of slave-holders,
To splinter each awful one
Til they peppered the banks and
Junk-piled the streets-
The littered remains of
Aristocracy and avarice
Yes lord

And now,
This little boy
Scrapes his net for fish
His name does not
Shield him from starvation

But listen,
It does say Fight. Stay. Win.
Ask around.              The old folks will tell you.

 

 

Poem copyright 2019 by Dominique Christina. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from Dominique Christina debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Haitian Lullaby: For Cecilia Laurent” and “In the Morning She Died for It.”

 


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

by Dominique Christina

Sugarcane is a metaphor
We summon from an
Undeep grave
We plant new bodies every morning
Watch ‘em grow up sweet and tall.

We get slick              or try to
Pull at the roots
Shuck the stalk
Let the juice run
Chew the rind-
Gotta be on your knees
For it cuz
We not supposed to know
Nectar no way

That’s how they got her.
Too proud to crouch-
That ain’t her religion
She say Shango and
We know she can’t bend-

She got too many
Stories in her blood
To go down easy
That’s how they catch her, see?

She standing straight as a curtain rod
Eating the cane with the
Sun on her face

Black as a coal
In a white dress.
She should be stooping
But that ain’t in her.
She a hurricane.
She wants sugar so
She takes it.

Free people keep afever
Know the heat,
Give it a name.

Unmuted black girl in a
Church-white dress
Big from the crime
Of taking sugar for herself

Sun-struck daughter

Every one of us keeps a  
Hell within reach
They make the want wide
Til we puddle from it-

We reconnaissance
Our bones
Get up the next day
Dig a hole and put a
Girl inside the
Color of coal
Ruined woman
From rising water and
Wind laid bare
Nectar will make for
Murderous indifference

When I get to it
I will eat my own fruit
Let it dazzle my blood…

My own dumb blood
That has never known
A rebellion
Til a girl in a white dress
Sneaked the sugar cane
Into her pink mouth,
Got caught and
Set herself on fire
To keep from the lash
Sweet smoke, that…
Dead from stolen sugar
And the promise of white men
Who ride the devil too much to
Know the holiness of a black girl
With syrup on her chin-

Now every time I smell
Something sweet I think: War

Poem copyright 2019 by Dominique Christina. All rights reserved.

&
See two more poems from Dominique Christina debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: Haitian Lullaby: For Cecilia Laurent”  and  “What the Old Folks Knew…


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

by Dominique Christina

Sit mother.
Be in your bone-cluttered body
Be in your easy chair.
Bring us what you know about
Citadels and marching men
About fallen cities and unrestored
Watchtowers sneering at the ocean
Mere rubble now
From too many wars-

Bring us witchcraft
Bring us juju
Bring us communion
Bring us
Bring us bring us ancestor
Toward a noble dream
Of conquering Africans
The coast pinched red
Pocked with bone
Fodder for vultures
The feast of death

Bring us the tremble
You talked down
When the earthquake shook
The stones loose,
Bring us the unmoved earth
The rising tide
The island baptized
By flood

Bring us the way you stayed
How you know your body
Well enough to keep it.
How did you keep it?
So many did not.
Do you think of them?
How you outlived
Every one?
Is it the way you remember?
Or the way you do not?
Oh matriarch
Oh wise bird

115 years of life and
You still smile
Your hands still work.

God is probably
An old woman
Sitting bare-breasted in a window
Overlooking an ocean
Not so frenzied with memory,
Smoking a pipe,
Waiting on the mail,
With cornrows and
More grandchildren than
Can ever be counted,

Some war-whipped witch
With a walking stick and
Two walloped knees-
Born before everyone else

Who refuses to,
I say, refuses to,
Die.

 

Poem copyright 2019 by Dominique Christina. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from  Dominique Christina debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: What the Old Folks Knew…” and “In the Morning She Died For It.”

 


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

by Nate Marshall

again the white me
on the internet appears
& this time he wants
what is his.

our name
is a country
he claims
for himself.

you need to quit
using my name.
it is not your name. you are
fake! i am Nate Marshall. you are
filth!

Nate Marshall calls Nate Marshall
all this.

one Nate Marshall deletes
the other.

every Nate Marshall i know
has an unruly name

                                                a word he can’t trace back.

one Nate Marshall deletes
himself.

every Nate Marshall i know
is mistaken.

 

Poem copyright 2019 by Nate Marshall. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from Nate Marshall debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: another Nate Marshall origin story” and “Nate Marshall is a white supremacist from Colorado or Nate Marshall is a poet from the South Side of Chicago or i love you Nate Marshall.

 


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

by Nate Marshall

when i first made my name Nate
i was a boy
at summer camp
looking for cool in the muggy shadow
& so when the white boys snipped Nathaniel
to just a touch of the tongue to the mouth roof
it seemed to me a religious moment,
a new confirmation as okay.

this was 2000 &
you must have been
Nate Marshall
for decades by then.

years later, i find you
buried in a google search
& follow you silently
for the next year
like a high school crush.

i tell my students about you
the day when we wonder what if
privilege hadn’t put us in
a college classroom.

i tell my ex about you in bed
& it’s convenient that there’s this other
Nate Marshall to be the liar
lying there this time.

i see your failed campaign & watch how your ties
to white supremacists spelled your demise.
my Black history month paper on the Black Panthers
in 3rd grade wouldn’t color me radical enough & i am ashamed
i’ve never been pushed out of a spotlight for loving
my people too much. your day job is roofing & i just watch HGTV
in hotels. you are the truer amongst us Nate. you, peddler of propaganda
& seller of shingles.

can you show me how to love what you love?

every time i’ve said what’s good nigga
it’s possible we’ve matched
our mouths, symmetrical
around the two Gs in the middle.

i won’t lie to you Nate Marshall
or to myself Nate Marshall
i too have hated a nigga & lived
to tweet the tale.
i too have sat suspicious in my basement
wondering who was coming for my country.
i too have googled myself & found a myself
i despise.

i see you Nate Marshall
& now you’ve left Twitter
after i told my followers to tell you
that they loved you & your book
& your commitment to Black people
& i feel you Nate Marshall.
i’ve left places & loves
when they told me they loved
a Nate Marshall
i didn’t recognize.

Poem copyright 2019 by Nate Marshall. All rights reserved.

&
See two more poems from Nate Marshall debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: another Nate Marshall origin story”  and  “another Nate Marshall origin story


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

by Nate Marshall

for the purposes of this story let’s say
turn of the 20th century my great
grandfather Marshall disappeared
so thorough i don’t know what he looks like.

so let’s say he’s super high yellow
so much so maybe he’s swarthy
if he stays out of sun & so
in this story he drops my grandpops
& then pulls out of Mississippi to step west
& stretch his legs as a white man.

so let’s say he has a whole white
family with a little boy.
& let’s say he overcorrects
‘cause he knows the color
the boy carries without knowing
so he tells the little boy
we don’t associate with those people
& that little boy has a whole lineage

who don’t talk to those people.

maybe the name Marshall is just a passing
story we’ll never uncover. maybe he secret
Black like a Hollywood actor. but maybe
he knows & wants his name back
& his body too.

 

Poem copyright 2019 by Nate Marshall. All rights reserved.

&
See more poems from Nate Marshall debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: another Nate Marshall origin story” and “Nate Marshall is a white supremacist from Colorado or Nate Marshall is a poet from the South Side of Chicago or i love you Nate Marshall.”

 


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

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