This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features two poems by Amber Atiya. 


moon above 11433

u daughter of geechee gods
u femme no longer loving
the butch on top of her, u queer
my nickel plated heaven:
boys with breasts
& moustache
girls with hips
& apple
u biceps/white tee turban
round the head & it
don’t stop
u condom wrapper beautify
the weeds beautify
the turf wars
u eskovitch this hood
spiked with open cellars
vulgar prose
a zillion mouths chirp
their synchronized hunger
from trees & project windows
u drown police
sirens in soca
u deflower night red
black & green this borough
u illume my low-
end synthetic wig
my boos think u pure
a seahorse, tragic
dragon carved from wet bone
but u pearl-shine
than any face at land-
lord tenant court


sister (1990)

she not short, not tall, snickers
brown, live in a room, walls
kinda white, kinda yellow
like her teeth. no tv. no radio.
her best friend goldie a gold
fish. she wanna teach me goldie
language. ma say no.
the pills make her sleepy
and fat and forget goldie
if she can’t talk to goldie
who she gon’ talk to?
i say me. she say you
just a kid
i say ma. she roll
eyes, place a pill on her tongue.
sis and goldie plan a trip
to the moon
say i should come play
pokeno, eat fluffanutter
sandwiches. if the weather
nice maybe they stay for good.
but how they gettin there?
and if i go
how i’m gettin back?
once i ask how she talk to goldie.
same way that white boy
talk to pooh
i just don’t believe it.
then again.
sometimes i do.

Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).