**FEATURED POET ** Simone Person

on learning you love a dude who ain’t shit

if you were honest with yourself you knew he wasn’t shit the first time he said he’d never heard a Prince song when he didn’t know what challah was had never tasted cornbread and his AAVE was cobbled from Stillmatic but here in your sad college town he’s cute a little short and maybe the dick is on that staccato stroke but here you are pineapple upside down here you lost the fat girl bravado you built and every time he looks at you it feels like you have a chance like maybe everyone was wrong you aren’t a professional victim so when he kisses you don’t think of the ocean and the brine and the dying coral and the garbage plastic island floating somewhere learn to crave his teeth straining across your tongue how he grabs your ass so hard there’s crescents denting your hips teach yourself  it’s  just  how  desirable  you  are  not  his  attempts  to  cum quick  so  he  can  leave earlier


Exclusionary Black Girl

 

i fire bricks place them around my feet when i open my fifth grade locker and find folded paper slipped through the vents, graphite me limp and swinging from the approximation of a tree and i take it to my teachers and they hold a meeting and the white boy who drew it, who’s been whispering porch monkey to me for weeks, says he couldn’t have done it ‘cause shoot i can’t draw like it got stolen from the louvre and that settles it the rest of the school year slips by before i even learn what porch monkey means

 

i smooth stones stack them up to my knees when my white boyfriend says racism is wrong but nigger’s just a word and talking about it reheats the issue, slavery was so long ago, even though it’d only take a few hours to drive to a plantation and the grass growing over my ancestors’ graves is short and soft, even though my grandmother was born sixty-seven years after it ended, you got a white mom so it’s not like you’re Black for real anyways

 

i put a straw roof over my head close the gaps with handfuls of mud as the white bartender in the white bar swoops over me and a friend to serve white patrons, his face twists into surprise after we say something, mouth folds into i didn’t see you shrugs when asked what he thinks that looks like, and i know he’d never really see us at all as he turns back to his white patrons when we leave

i dig a moat boil water to pour over my walls when my brown

boyfriend defends the antiblackness of a non-Black Latina classmate, you can’t really get mad ‘cause it’s not like she’s white so what’s the big deal, all you want is community with other Black girls, it’s exclusionary, we need solidarity for the revolution and i want to know why the foundation has to start on my back but i don’t say anything, just build so good that no matter how long the street lights have been on or how far my name carries in the night wind nobody can find me again


Erasure of the Suicide Note I Wrote Before My Unsuccessful Attempt

 

I don’t want                                                     me,

                                 I’m not “here.”

                                                 I                           want

to leave

                                      to be split                

                      be sad                      in better terms,

                to hurt                                 for long                                        I’m successful

I’m                         dogma                                    weighed

           heavily                                        

                            spirits, don’t want       here.                           go.


Accretion

 

as a child i envied

venus fly traps

their ability to snap

themselves shut

to turn invasion

into strength

 

my body flowered into disappointment

 

i was a warm home

for boys who kiss with their teeth,

with hungry hands that have seen too much

 

i am shrouded under a crown of fury

 

a wolf of a girl

i prayed to be an orchard

legs closed, eyes to god

 

i am everything i never wanted

 


oneironaut

i don’t dream but sleep

like an actual baby—

every two hours and i’m up

i trace growing ceiling shadows

as the moon shifts and turns to sun

 

over the summer pain

bloomed in my hip fell

down my leg pooled across my shin

now i don’t sleep—

worse than a baby a boy i can’t love

dreams dreams hard wakes complaining

of gauzy hands pulsing

around his skinny ankles asks me voice sleep-thick

to follow him

for a glass of water he’s afraid

to go alone there’s ghosts

in the hall a fog of a man

crouched near the baseboard

 

asleep he tells me he loves me

whispers names for our future children

begs me to hold him the plump

of his cheeks soft against my throat he won’t

remember this in the morning

 

when he is gone

even his body’s indent left

on my mattress puffed out again

i’ll call my mother asking if she dreams

no she says not since meeting your father

this is a joke and not this is bitter and not

but i know she does

 

once she dreamt of finding

me in her kitchen my eyes black holes

my mouth a starless void

another time:

closing her eyes on the freeway

the wheel sliding from her fingertips

car drifting to the next lane metal against guardrail sparks a snap

not that i’d ever do it she says

it’s just a dream


Simone grew up in Michigan and Ohio, and is a second year Fiction MFA candidate at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Five on the Fifth and Beecher’s Magazine, and her chapbook was a finalist selection for Black Lawrence Press’s Spring 2016 Black River Chapbook Competition.