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From “Junk”

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Wherever we go, needs feed and I find it harder and harder to
believe benevolence is the thing Thousands of Yazidi girls

missing and plastic fills the ocean’s mouth and the cursive of
yr name still occupies the canopy of my throat Fuel, the under-

pinning What fires your gd engine Rigor, mortis Cold as
unmoving or unmoved The opposite of music Warm in the

cold universe Molten, forming A rock becoming magma
becoming lava becoming land Land, the trauma of lava Lava

the lamp of the ancestors and later a cheeky find in the Junk
shop and rising in our living room Livin groom Just bc nothing

cares doesn’t mean it lacks meaning What’s the point of
curiosity but a train rolling past the spot where the Donner

Party feasted n then go on a four hour Wikipedia downward
spiral I’m the closest thing to a mime parade I whisper, home

late tiptoeing down the creaky hallway tryin not to wake my
roommates Nice chicken parm, sluts, I say to my fingers at

lunch Dissociation is evacuating from the inside I just know
we’ll have a good time Junk: a relief map of yr traumas Dipping

yr whole arm into the bin of sunflower seeds I’m in my Shonda
Rhimes Year of Yes n so far it’s pretty freak Gave a beej 2 a

logger in town for a football game at his hostel (almost wrote
hostile) the old-fashioned way, as in I met him at a bar after

lingering eye contact No apps Told him I was writing this poem
Flush with success after only eating half the cheeseburger for

dinner For the first time in my life it wasn’t no burger or four
burgers Full on Rocky situation He said he was flattered every

time his gf’s gay friends grabbed his beer can Bacon-wrapped-
date-flavored Doritos The artifice of order Predictability,

measured time, present wrapping Order, Order, Pockets of
Order Or, Durham I dumped a boy from Raleigh today The

baton of Junk The dance whirls Whorls War Tortle Cut to mall
dressing room thousand outfits montage Ignorance as a tool to

revive the feeling of doing something new Junk has to be the
poem of our time Pointless accumulation Clinging to a million

denials Why do you need an assault rifle? What if radioactive
bears Buying in bulk Afraid of forgetting that night in 2007

when Chantal shouted jamiroquai is holding this party
together!!!! Junk is the garbage ppl keep Didn’t they tell you

I’m a meteorologist but for people What’s that called? Psychic?
Psychic side chick In maths, “arbitrary” is a thing w/o specific

value Quite the Junkery The world, all of its rock formations
and space missions and presidents and religious phobias and

fashions fossils All of it has always seemed so arbitrary to me,
bc to survive this long into an occupation feels sometimes so

arbitrary to be And then sometimes so divine Who else could
survive but my line It’s true, your Junk won’t save you from a

tsunami, but I’m descended from a group whose culture history
language gods cosmology calendar stories government gait was

capital “O” Obliterated I’ll stop writing this when it stops hap-
pening So when I “get” anything it’s hard to let go Resisting

death for generations, I want to make the opposite of death No
excuse for a vanilla bean tapioca ball attitude Ever bought a

McFlurry n shouted yr dead inside but yew were pointing a
finger at yrself and, horrified, yew screamed Ran home but half-

way home yew forgot what yew were doing n bought a pair of
sneaker boots at DSW or just me? I’m building the archive of a

life that shouldn’t exist Wristband from that gay club in
Cartagena where we danced w/ the self-proclaimed Perez

Hilton of Colombia Every bar frankly should have tostones
smellin up the grill Is a poem abt Junk itself merely an accum-

ulation of doomsday and birth certificates If part of Junk is
letting go, partly Junk is letting go of you Junk finds a new boo

 


“Control” by Janet Jackson is one of the greatest songs in the
nation Warm hearts sparkle in the colonial afternoon Control

is a reaction to something smacking that cracks the future
w/ no precedent We call this a paradigm shift — say we were

totally blindsided Janet wants to take control from her parents
From the loss of a first love Control of the narrative Janet

wants to Black Cat in boxy military garb Janet wants to show
you her midriff and introduce J. Lo to the general public in

a few albums Shock is a kind of collision A booming confusion
The shudder and the shot are almost indistinguishable Shock

has its electric correlate, but is also itself by what surrounds
the event: a quiet dinner party vs sweaty racing thoughts And

what do you make of it My friend said he found out his crush
graduated college in 2014 n hates himself And I’m like wait

til yr my age thinkin, I totally still look like I’m in my 20s Then
it turns out the dude you were makin out with was born the

year Janet, the album, came out What the literal fudge An hour
ago you were singing “That’s the Way Love Goes” at karaoke

In my defense, taller dudes always look older How to negotiate
control and the lack of control When yr slap hand gets itchy OK

whenever anybody dumps you just think of them as a gif of a
white dude wilding out to Wu Tang in a cardigan then suddenly

falling into the Grand Canyon — Dating is all the way dumb I
don’t know what, if any of this, will reach yr peepers but I want

to ask you this (and I am guilty of making ppl wade thru some
bullshit b4 getting to my point): What do you turn to when

breath dashes from yr body like it’s on the lamb? Cindy Craw-
ford says lighting is everything Take a selfie from the sun-

blown window Even supermodels say “lighting” It’s comforting!
But there’s also value in exposing yr engine #BadSelfie Archaic

but also so fresh: self-expression Trust is a thing that guides
you thru a feed The voice like a handshake I’m in front of you

There is paper and a trade-off This is ancient, like pixel drift
What’s under the hood of irritation We call complication a knot

A knotted life that doesn’t get to be undone Who here has a
clear, linear rope? Denial! You have to love yr knots You have

to shout them out Curate if need be Janet turns her knots into
songs Sonic beauty (tho fuck beauty) Knot is the response A

manager is like a politician Not the minutiae but the orchest-
ration The dark forest It’s hard not to inhale The cave is where

to turn when you’ve no other recourse This isn’t a discussion
This isn’t a mandate (lol man date) This isn’t an answer This is

a lineage: Lascaux, Keith Haring, Rihanna How do you draw
breath? In and down Heel to crown Janet says I’m in control

and ends Don’t make me lose it As if she knows what’s to come.
The battle of control is in learning to make, and giving it up
Source: Poetry (January 2017)

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Poetry magazine

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