untitled #3 (exhaustion is the metaphor)

Mimi Tempestt


around 8:46 every morning, i sit at my balcony and smoke cigarettes waiting for my classes to begin. this thing that i think i do. these words. this act of poeming has always been the rejection of the policing of my mind. i am an academic contradiction. an institutional con-artist. i inhale the theoretical frameworks of dead white imaginings, and exhale a brewing of poetic indecisions. i read the theories, claim understanding, then out of my mouth comes a boiling of puke. a hot pink hubris. on telegraph avenue, i hear the sirens of police cars beginning their blood-day rituals. i know just a few blocks away, under the bridge of the 580 freeway, is an encampment of my people. hungry mouths and waywards souls boxed into a frenzy of life dealings. every second is a matter of life vs. death. i renegade against these melancholic scenes and find a fake solitude in my mind by feeding it falsities and convoluted fantasies of untouched possibilities. convince myself that the page and pen is my only hope. 

for the 3rd time this week, i tell my white roommate that there are 3 types of Black poets: 

  1. The Love Poet 
  2. The Life Poet 
  3. The Death Poet 

she nods at my insanity, as i wonder how all three types escaped me. i check my computer and another rejection letter sits in my email’s inbox. it reads:


Dear Mimi, 

We regret to inform you that your poem was not selected for our upcoming issue. Although we found your work very compelling, the language used to depict your dead uncle, a Latinx Vietnam war veteran[1] , was jarring and did not fit the theme that we hoped would inspire our readers. Quite simply, this isn’t the blackness we were intending for. This isn’t what we meant when we stated we were looking for BIPOC / Queer / Disabled / Activist / Inner-city / Southern / Ancestral / Diasporic / Chattel Slave / Fractured / Immigration/ Identity/ Porn. We meant show us your roots plainly. Expose the complexities of the Black-Latinx complex, traditionally, and uncover all the ways in which your identity can be magnified under a microscopic lens for us to harken on, and subsequently celebrate. To be quite frank, poems about the military-industrial-complex aren’t in right now.


 The White Editors of White Blasé Blah Review

my monday mornings are now reserved for whispering bullshits and faggotries under my breath. i pretend to wish these writings were primed for proper positioning and polished politics poetics. i dodge the page, and instead of writing a poem, i buy a frame. i declare i will adorn it with a sacral fury and hang it from a tree. at night i dream i am the frame and the frame is a runaway idiom that supplements its lack of understanding into a holding cell of bleak precautions as the frame hangs form from the tree its suspended self is rocked slightly by the wind maybe twirling about from the rope occasionally side to side but due to its tethering to the tree never floats to the sky or drops to the ground the frame me the tree the sky the ground are all fantastical elements of alchemy but no substance is ever made 

 i wake up. 

the next morning, my white roommate smiles while squeezing oranges into orange juice.
i puff away at the balcony. i remember that i discovered the fourth type of poet in my dream. 

the first line of my new poem reads: 

Dear White Editors of White Blasé Blah Review, 

“motherfucker” is a word that i frequently occupy use. 

* this poem got a motherfucker thinking that thinking has been occupied by white for too long *for too long
a motherfucker has been occupied by white

*a white motherfucker has occupied this poem
*white thinking has been a motherfucker
*white thinking got a motherfucker occupied
*a motherfucker thinking white has been occupied for too long 

You see, I’ve never been interested in the formalities of language and story-telling. What is the word? What can the word do? How can it stitch itself? Stretch itself? Hide itself? Dream itself? Reveal itself? “Motherfucker” is the word I whisper under my breath when the river of life has switched directions, unbeknownst to me. “Motherfucker” is that son-of-a-bitch who owes me a hunnid dollars, and dodged me when he saw me coming up the street. “Motherfucker,” accompanied with a tsk, is what i whisper under my breath while driving, as oakland pd comes (as they frequently do) hunting behind me. “Motherfucker” is also the enslaved son forced to breed with his mother in order to birth property, and increase profits for the chattel slave master. But you didn’t want me to write it like that, did you? You want me to placate my traumas and histories on this page, so you could check off a box to meet a quota of equitable representation, inclusion, and diversity for your publication. You want me to write an incisive, captivating, stark description of that one time a lapd cop pulled me over on Broadway, and because he didn’t like my nonchalant approach to his presence, tried to violently yank me out of my car. What an interesting (publishable) motif to reinforce the importance of Black Lives Matter. The movement you recently, and so publicly, donated a small portion of your earnings to. You want me to write about a pair of white faggots[2] who attacked me and a fellow Black artist during San Francisco Pride as an examination on how white gay culture fails in solidarity with its Black/Queer counterparts. You want me to detail my Mississippi ancestry. My indigenous South Dakota roots. Sensationalize my heritage. Fascinate my working-class family and Los Angeles upbringing. So your readers can salivate celebrate the complexities of black realities. 

*One published Black poet soliloquizes his repudiation of this police state. Out of passion for his people, he tweets (daily) we ought to imagine a new reality.

*The other one stopped sending in work. Says her poems about sexual violence and survival amongst Black femmes within academic institutions aren’t being picked up by your publication or others akin to yours. She believes the lack of a student body at the universities, due to Covid-19, has created a disinterest in uncovering these former/current realities.

*The other one successfully publishes a sonnet composed of drowned Black babies.

*And I, instead of immersing myself in the dwellings of my body, that exhausting task– that masturbation of painful memory-reality, make an incision on you. 

The Fourth Type of Poet is a MotherFucker[3]
– she is the remarkable, yet very unpleasant, thing that tsks while you gander at her flesh.
– she is the remarkable, yet very unpleasant, thing who refuses to bleed on this page.[4]

– she is the remarkable, yet very unpleasant, thing. [5]  

the words: the frame: the poet: the flesh: the thing: 

refuses to bleed on this page. I’m claustrophobic refuses to bleed on this page. I’ll do anything, anything you tell me to, man refuses to bleed on this page. I’m not trying to win refuses to bleed on this page. God, I’m claustrophobic refuses to bleed on this page. [6] This is cold-blooded, man 

Sincerely (go fuck yourself),

Mimi Tempestt

1the apostle, peter is a poetic eulogy for my dead uncle. at the top of the poem, i call him a “motherfucker” and “the best story-telling son-of-a bitch” in the world. quite frankly, it’s a phenomenal piece.
2my best friend william, says that one day i’m going to get into big trouble for using this word publicly. i wish a motherfucker would…
3a justifiable hiding place.
4all my life, i breathe while pushing daisies.
5unframeable. bizarre. uncharacteristically abject.
6for at least 8 minutes and 46 seconds, you too should push daisies.