I Be Too Busy to Love Anything But a Drink
I’m used both the bottom of a bottle I drank alone
and body of someone I kinda loved.
what makes a wine bottle a body.
is what spills on the floor and onto my hands
I lick it up clean, nurse the bottle back to body back to empty again
and again, and again until
I am drunker than the last time
I drink to hold something that will leave when i want it to
I drink because that kind of control is important
and drunken me has lessons to learn
a bottle is a body but smaller and easier to carry around
I be too busy to love anything but a drink.
and I’m over the way love hangs its self inside my throat,
barricading my teeth to one another.
the idea of it does not make me smile,
more like it hurts to breathe.
when thinking about the last person to really love me
and the last person I really loved
I gag at how many times a four letter word stretches around my entire body
clinging to the soft parts of me.
I say no, I’ll keep saying no until the bottle lets me loose.
doesn’t make me sick
leaves my belly alone and
my hands alone
and my heart to be sitting still
along a muddy sad river
seeing myself in it and only myself in it
when love and drunk no longer mean the same thing to me
I’ll be able to hold a sleepy lover in my hands,
hold their big heavy heart,
sway together in bath water and silence like the memory does
maybe one day I’ll look for myself in heartbeat
that isn’t a song
maybe I’ll be that person’s person
maybe one day I’ll give in.
but i won’t hold my breath for it.
because then I’ll miss my train to work.
How to Pray
Ask me what a perfect moment looks like
and ill say despite the carnage around us “you’re doing great”
and it will be a good morning.
when the air recognizes its worth
we change too
we wear thicker jackets and
the train feels warmer
and there’s a swollen quiet
There is a man reading passages
from the bible
and this is a sort of perfect filling thing
a kind crushing of sin
a breaking of bread each morning
where time is the wind that
kisses the bibled man’s face.
So, if you ask me what perfect is, I’ll say
Perhaps Philly is just a moment of a perfect place
cause, Its skyline forgive the wildest
day and your baddest behavior
cause, each train car is a stained pew of rusted silver
where you say prayers
next to a black woman
holding time in her curlers
bending the trains speed around
each beauty supply treasure.
and With all this thick beauty
it’s difficult to get off
at the right stop
because time is up to me
and i want to ride here for what is forever,
I don’t mind the stench of
its stained floor
or the ricochet of the pew
against train tracks.
because here I am not asked
what a perfect anything is,
here, I don’t have to know
anything, except how to pray.
Customer Service Jobs Ain’t Shit.
I almost always smile instead of beating the teeth from a racists mouth.
Instead of clawing away at the cacti stuck on my inner lips
I rotate slow.
Show them the back of my head
my eyes gloss over
blood drips from behind my ears and fingertips
I become a black bleeding museum.
White people live for this kind of taxidermy
A stuffed black body
fixed up with a smile
with their friends and family
in front of the children.
It’s astounding how white people bend themselves into a black person’s body.
How one question is a raging hunger and suddenly predator catching prey.
Nothing I do is an actual truth
so I just smile heavy, bleeding.
While white people feast and feast and feast
swallow my teeth hole,
smile in accomplishment,
reach over the counter separating us
to pick up all the words that fell from my mouth,
feed it to their children
and they eat it up
and I still smile
Shanel Edwards is a Black Queer Femme dancer, writer and photographer in the Philadelphia area. Their choreography, written, and photographed work has been featured in The Philly Pigeon’s multimedia productions ‘How to Take Space’ and ‘Vanishing Point’. They are a recent graduate of Temple University with a degree in African American Studies and Psychology. They are an alumni of D2D: Dare to Dance and assisted in organizing Prelude Urban Dance Competition 2016-17. Their movement style is rooted in Hip-Hop, modern/contemporary and free movement. Her lifestyle incorporated using radical softness and honesty as a way to uplift and support Black Queer Femmes.