THE DUKE OF YORK @ 5 PM.
for mickalene thomas
men talk about the weather like they were born for it.
or it was born for them.
a bar feels like an unsavory place to write until
i hear two men talking about the weather like a femme noire they unlearned how to love. “i hope she stays this beautiful.”
“i hope we get lucky.”
and suddenly, i must write nature an apology.
make it sound like “ain’t no mountain high enough,”
like “give me the night.”
i apologize the way only a fellow femme noire can.
for the men and their climate change conversations.
aware that forgiveness is buried somewhere in the atlantic
and archaeologists are coming for that too.
familiar with all we will have to surrender before they let us rest.
PARABLE OF THE HIDDEN TREASURE
an aubade for those who are always rising
on the days my sister’s memory is an atrophied muscle
a sax player resurrects the “darkest light” sample / husks “show me what you got”
becomes the pot howling hymns at the kettle on the Q to church avenue.
family honey-roasts niggas over woolen plats in a black girl’s kitchen
stove hot / tongues sorrel sour / kanekalon viands to emaciated hearts
metta passes through dap meditation and none of us are tender-headed here.
on the days my sister’s empathy hangs thick / crab boil steam clouds ashlee’s windows
asia laughs under trees in a prospect park sunshower / superb and inevitable
fire envelops the tip of a blunt rolled with lavender the grandest
branching only complemented by heat.
we two-step across the floor in maya’s living room
transformed and overripe melody / a trap motet with massed strings
movement 1: i forgive her
for singing to me in voices not her own.
thank her for the music anyway.
on the days my sister’s rings are trophies from a living made by hunting
commerce at an end / the green line sinking into the ocean
movement 2: i forgive myself
for marking the change in her tale’s narrator.
thank her for lingering to listen anyway.
Mia S. Willis is a Black performance poet from Charlotte, North Carolina. Their work has been featured by or is forthcoming in The New Southern Fugitives, FreezeRay, Narrative Northeast, Peculiar, Slamfind, and others. Mia’s poem “hecatomb.” won the 2018 Foothill Editors’ Prize, earning nominations for a Pushcart Prize and for inclusion in Best New Poets. In 2019, Mia was named the first two-time Capturing Fire Slam Champion, a Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry, the Young Artist Fellow at Chashama’s ChaNorth residency, a collaborator in Forward Together’s Transgender Day of Resilience Art Project, and a performing artist on RADAR Productions’ Sister Spit 2020 Tour. Their debut poetry collection, monster house., was the 2018 winner of the Cave Canem Foundation’s Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize and is available with Jai-Alai Books. Connect with Mia on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram (@poetinthehat).