list of things to say instead of “i’m fine”

my blood moves like tectonic plates: so slow
one might not notice, but notice first, please,
before the earthquake.

*

i have always been afraid of waves, how they say:
i know                                                              what it’s like
to crumble                                                     over myself and
hear my crashing  simply
called                                                               beautiful

the syncopation of my heart’s        swung notes
is more than                                                                              metronome. but
not quite a full   song, either.

*

i woke up this morning
as a houseplant not watered
in weeks. when i tried
to move, wilted pieces
of brown flesh crumbled
onto the carpet, waited
there for the vacuum.

*

i am tired                       of how this skin
makes lonely, how afraid i am
that i’ll say i’m       black
and scared                     and no one
will listen—that i will say
i am proud                     and be
perceived therefore as threat.

*

today is that ice cube song,
but because a good day means
so much forgetting.

*

something in this city
is always on fire. before
the neighbor’s car it was
the house around the corner.
before that, the trash can
on the curb the night
before garbage day.

*

remember playing the floor is lava?
like that, except the lava is also
the walls and ceiling and furniture.

maybe moses’ feet were burned
when he removed
his sandals at the feet of the bush.
what saint has not lived
constant pain?

*

hansel and gretel left
bread crumbs when they should have
left a trail of blood,
held their faces    down and
admitted they were lost.

*

i no longer have to meet yearly
with the cardiologist. i will not miss
the tug of ekg stickers pulling off
body hair, but i miss the jelly on chest,
the dull pressure of the instrument
pressing skin around ribs and sternum,
to see my center on a screen—
yes, there are parts in here
that are pumping,
working, despite.


Image Credits: Maria Morri