Two Poems

DeShara Suggs-Joe


The Strength of U

after Aracelis Girmay


You are:

homeless. bound to the thought of freedom. no grasp dragging
your right hand across the ink. Messy quiet the combination of enough
and not quite. making shadowslights out. ask
for the things you need



Mississippi clay. sweet. hamhock. cursed vegetarian. disowned
by still. say. say who you are and mean nothing. foot
in your mouth. constantchoke. planted. tell me who you are,


Y is everything a question about the internal? Eternity and thereafter. sound vibrating against

O is owwwwww. lowercase wondering. liberation of how big O really is. buy an O
and get inside. circle it with your tongue.

U is deceived. doubled and pleading for more. Use me and say it was good.


am i a fortress? U saw me and lost nothing. U turned away. U forgot my name
and pretended to be grounded in the foundation of U. U is disillusioned–

U love the way we play

come back and act like U need me. stamp my hand. gold star. gold star. gold star?
gold is just metallic yellow and yellow is just. Is this the reason for my arrival?


this is the radiant part. the part that Glistens. i will go inside
the sun and burn off the delicate pieces. U are no longer needed.
thank you. SO. thank you. NO.

leaving is not a departure. it’s calling the maze a straight line

queer space and call it mass. paw paw signed the paper,
jesus comes in many forms.

yes, but when i say i am also him U say no.


i am not angelic. broken cross. oh crucified me. thorns decorate my temple. i cannot hear
U. la la la la la. i cannot hear U. la la la la la.

thank you. thank you. i will bow


i am:

saint of all petty. foot-working on UR fable. 

jesus did not die. jesus did not rise. 
he hired a stunt double.

 i do my own stunts. surprised? i’m a treasure chest. the wizard. less discolored. i speak
 in twists. the meaning is the start. the start is at the end. the yellow bricks were too expensive.

i parted my coils down the middle and saw the sea. U wanted to see it all again



Emulating the piece of paper that is often used to play the childhood game “MASH,” the poem begins with its title, which shares the same name as the game, and which shows the letters “M,” “A,” and “S” with slashes through them while the final letter “H.” This signals that the player or speaker has ended up with “H” or “house” for where the game portends they will live in the future. The following categories also indicate aspects of the player or speaker’s future: 1) For “Future Husband,” the names Zion, Xavier, and Damon (whose name is also circled) are crossed out while the name Ayana is circled beside them 2) For “Location,” NYC (which is also circled), Oakland, and New Orleans are crossed out while “the Block” is circled beside these cities 3) For “Future Husband’s Job,” Doctor, Lawyer, and Artist (which is also circled) are crossed out while the word “free” is circled beside these job titles 4) For “Future Job,” Writer (which is also circled), Forensic Scientist, and Professor are crossed out while the words “the stars” are circled beside these job titles 5) For “Number of Children,” the numbers One, Two (which is circled), and Four are crossed out while “Zero” is circled beside the numbers 6) For “Transportation,” Flying, Teleportation, and Maybach (which is also circled) are crossed out while “Rocketship” is circled next to these modes of travel.

I was taught to make a house of men / thought it made my sins fall
off the bone / tender and rubbed (she who finds a man finds
a good) right/ till Ayana pranced down the block/ her thick
sparkling and my heart /      my heart finally knew what it meant
to be chopped-screwed / I imagine she spewed game like / they call
me free
/ but what she meant was / she never belonged
to herself/ and I said things like / I belong to the stars /
but what I meant was / I never had a home / but sometimes
the sky folds open / crystalblue and cloudless / and I rent
a rocketship / invite all the girls I held in my throat
like phlegm / I was scared / that childrenlesswomen get
called everything but their names / who am I to be asked
how many men and say zero/ godforsaken/ Delilah/
all I ever wanted was something / a babypink house /
the greenest of grass / the stars/                  and silence