By Sekani Johnson

House of Gold

So ashamed am I  
of being such an intolerable guest
in people’s (now stranger’s?) lives
Burrowing into portraits of
fatigued specters 
cold vapors
swaying like cacti 
hovering over chimneys
buried in the loamy earth of a dark warren 
Their bodies shed the lighter gemini
and shy into bramble patches at my approach
And yet I am still sorrier that they will never see
how an ant’s meal of self-esteem
can dance with such finesse 
partnered with brushes of adversity  
on a canvas of scorched white coal
They have deferred their chance to find antonyms
for the widths of their tolerance
burdening, cracking the frame of rusted photographs
that work overtime 
on recycled punch cards
Pity they will ultimately miss the utero slip
a cataclysm of patience 
that beholds this phoenix 
wearing ribbon wings of excellence 
A rarity
a vivacious delicacy 
for those starving from wanderlust
I doubt they will have learned
or rather
my pride will go as far as to say 
I expect they will never learn
how to assess such a stone 
without flawless contours 
and uncut facets
But my relevance knows 
it can never be as bright
as the lightning crack forming tributaries 
from the first fracture
The glow now
is soft, soft, a speckled spotlight on 16mm
Too dim to even apply 
for a price  

Nothing But Smiles Over Here

I called it “patience”
Whatever anger or fury seething in my bowels, riding up the rungs of my sternum,
I learned to cough out as noises of bemused distress 
Or fixing passive stares to the aloof eyes of a boy 
The world is fair, the world is right this way 

That caramel skin is too precious to have 
a wire of silver trace copies of imperfection over it.
Having been loaned and grafted from the sweating brows of supposed kings and matriarchs, 
the torn burlap and rusted chains; and the burnt gunpowder in barrels, steel caches, and embossed pine 
boxes, and the processes of working on unprocessed hair
Regardless, a stray cat too can learn to appreciate fine art

Nah, baby boy’s too good for that 
He has to be
He is supposed to be

Riding those seconds past his threshold, 
kneeling in snow at the locked gates of Papa’s mausoleum,  
kneeling in the snow till the only thing that could have moved that body was Jesus himself
Wondering if the dead could see him 
drowning in the bronze of his ire 

Telling time by the hands,
opened or closed, that found themselves
unwanted on the body. Chasms of frustration 
frosting the memory as teeth settle into 
eroded grooves, divots on the tongue. Foster homes
for the sufficient and canon.

Waiting with frantic and awkward splashes,
treading in unconscious formality and delicacy
Practicing to wait, patiently
Yes Sir, Yes Ma’am 
Yes Sir, Yes Ma’am 

Sekani Johnson is off and on again poet from Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Wabash College and uses his writing as a way of exploring identity. 

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