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Featured Poem II • February 2015

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Visitation of the Oracle at McKain Street

 

Sheree Renée Thomas

 

Illustration by Tamara Natalie Madden.

Illustration by Tamara Natalie Madden


 

See them l’il girls over there? Pants all tight and they shoes too big? Walkin’ round here, lookin’ like lumberjacks. Them l’il girls don’t know nothing about nothing. They laugh ’cause my skirt ain’t on straight. They laugh ’cause my lipstick crooked, blackberry stain all around my mouth, mascara clumpy, raccoon eyes like I been stumbling in the dark. They don’t know I ain’t got no mirror no more. They don’t know my hand ain’t steady no more, not like it used to. My aim ain’t steady but my vision still clear. And I see all they see and more again. I seen the water rise. Me, who come from desert. I seen the wild and strangeful breed rise from Abeokuta rock, wailing across the big wata all the way down in them burial grounds to 125th Street, down Beale and Congo Square. Last night, I sat on the levee and moan They don’t know I seen false prophets rise centuries ago, ain’t nothing new ain’t nothing in ramblin’ I been standing on these corners sweeping dead ends since time began since the river I drank from turn to dust seen them write epistles in piss carving curses in concrete pimping pilgrims the pastime of the ages I seen the newborn choke on milk poisoned I seen babies struggling against temptations they ain’t yet got teeth for while you rush by me frowning at my stink You don’t know this funk be spiritual funktified force field underneath this funk, a shield frankincense and myrrh guide lost spirits home See that girl over there? The one in the fur knee-high boots, cussin’ up storms? Like death, it’s hard to escape the laughter of children. We will meet again, but she don’t know that yet. You and I will meet again, but you don’t believe that yet. You don’t know these mismatch clothes cover robes that got wings You don’t know this store front I lean to be the city gate of the restless Simeon played the fool to mock the world I play the damned, but you can call me saint the big black dog guard the crossroads I cover the dead ends, patron of the misguided elder of the in between I cover the ones that ain’t got but one option left But if you can call me by my true name, I just might let you turn around and try again.

 

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ShereeSheree Renée Thomas, a native of Memphis, is the 2015 Lucille Geier Lakes Writer-in-Residence at Smith College. A Cave Canem and New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, her work also appears in Callaloo, storySouth, the New York Times, the Washington Post, as well as in anthologies, including The Moment of Change, 80! Memories and Reflections on Ursula K. LeGuin, Mojo: Conjure Stories, Hurricane Blues, Bum Rush the Page, The Ringing Ear, MYTHIC 2, and So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy. Sheree edited Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2001 and 2005 World Fantasy Awards). She is the author of Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems (Aqueduct Press) and has a graphic novel forthcoming from Rosarium Publishing. You can read more about her at her blog, Black Pot Mojo.

 

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