from “Muse & Drudge,” “Trimmings”
From Muse & Drudge
dressed as a priestess
she who carries water
mirrors mojo breasts
some loose orisha gathering
where blue meets blue
walk out to that horizon
tie her sash around you
how many heads of cowries
drinking her bathwater
quench a craving for knowledge
kumbla of red feathers
tongues chant song
may she carry it well
and put it all down
tom-tom can’t catch
a green cabin
an ancestor dances Ashanti
history written with whitening
darkened reels and jigs
perform a mix of wiggle
slouch fright and essence of enigma
a tanned Miss Ann startles
as the slaver screen’s
queen of denial a bottle
brown as toast Egyptian
today’s dread would awe
Topsy undead her missionary
exposition in what Liberia
could she find freedom to study her story
up from slobbery
the soles of her black feet
beat down back streets
a Yankee porkshop
for your knife and fork
your fill of freedom
never trouble rupture
urban space fluctuates
gentrify the infrastructure
feel up vacant spades
no moors steady whores
studs warn no mares
blurred rubble slew of vowels
stutter war no more
Akimbo bimbos, all a jangle. Tricked out trinkets, aloud
galore. Gimcracks, a stack. Bang and a whimper. Two to
tangle. It’s a jungle.
Harmless amulets arm little limbs with poise and charm.
In feathers, in bananas, in her own skin, intelligent body at-
tached to a gaze. Stripped down model, posing for a savage
art, brought color to a primitive stage.
Chichi busy bodice with fancywork got filigreed and gold.
Then plumed themselves in fancy dress and knit their brows
to clothe the naked.
Punched in like slopwork. Mild frump and downward
drab. Slipshod drudge with chance of dingy morning slog.
Tattered shoulders, frayed eyes, a dowdy gray. Frowzy in a
Duds, garbled garb. Misfits, women in breaches. Early
bloomers or bluestockings, whose blue worsted wicked
black dress, or a white none inhabits. Unholy Magdelene
with her veil of tears.
Mohair, less nape to crown fluffed pillow. Fuzzyhead, down
for a nap. Soft stuff of dreams in which she fluffs it.
Animal pelts, little minks, skins, tail. Fur flies. Pet smitten,
smooth beaver strokes. Muff, soft, ‘like rabbits.’ Fine fox
stole, furtive hiding. Down the road a pretty fur piece.
Opens up a little leg, some slender, high exposure. Splits a
chic sheath, tight slit. Buy another peek experience, price
is slashed. Where tart knife, scoring, minced a sluttish strut.
Laughing splits the seams. Teeth in a gash, letting off steam.
Swan neck, white shoulders, lumps of fat. A woman’s face
above it all. Unriddled sphinx ‘without secrets.’ Alabaster
bust, paled into significance. Clothes opening, revealing
dress, as French comes into English. Suggestively, a cleav-
age in language.
Decorative scrap. A rib, on loan. Fine fabric, finished
at edges. Fit for tying or trimming. Narrow band, satin, a
velvet strip. A ribbon wound around her waist. A glancing
bow. Red ribbon woven through her, blue-ribbon blonde.
For valor, a shred of dignity. A dress torn to ribbons.
For frills, fancy crimps and shaves. Cut curls, frail frounce.
Smile, curtsies, now only of women flexing a fondness.
Plain as a broad steaming a wrinkle, takes out the starch.
Frilled up to here, she starts sleeking. Flat, flatter, flatter.
Gaudy gawks at baubles fondle tawdry laces up in garish
gear, a form of being content.
Chaste, apprehended, collared and cuffed. Kept under wraps,
as bridal veils visually haze precious, easily torn, gauzy ro-
mantic tissues. Thin threads lace into delicate, expensive
fabrics woven and unwoven at night by patient spinsters
with needles and scissors. Laced in, as fate would have it.
Knots and the tiniest holes. Surgical cutting and sewing.
Peeking as usual. Skin under lace. A thread, a net effect, a
web to sleep in. A white nightgown, girl, child, baby, laced
and unlaced. A ruffle, a frill. A pale piece of something,
almost made of air.
Rapt babes in peekaboo webs. Preying widows, spiders
in black weeds. Smoldering glance in a drop-dead dress.
Witches burning at high stakes. Blackened virgins, selling