pick yr objects & yr raiment. figure out
what will be yr body before you open yr eyes
try not to cheat & don’t let anything in
before you know yr cover. every single inch
of yr body should become a legend. every single inch
of yr body may or may not have lived. every single inch
of yr body will be remembered as something else entirely.
this is yr war. you lack the hands
for them to catch. yr snaps are intermittent,
they fall back on themselves. make yrself what is
wanted don’t know yrself see what is wanted know
yrself know you will never be wanted. you are not beautiful.
not you & nothing else. know yr hunger.
antiphonal & holy in yr first words. take
the blood & not the body in yr mouth. drunk on the blood
& songs out between waking & tale-telling like the dead. songs of
yr body that no one has seen, songs off yr tongue that
may or may not be, songs from yr family. music that makes you
a mother, music that makes you a child that has never been seen,
yrself small against the stones of yr teeth.
(they live with their dead & are always shifting)
(pray for them)
& every morning first pour from hand to
hand (pray for them) count 7 breaths in your mother tongue
(this may take yr whole life.you may always pray in words
that have nothing to do with you. yr mouth will stream apologies
in the place of blessings. you will choose accidents.it is possible
the best thing would be to lose yr tongue altogether.)
(i propose that we cause & ride a)
black space/shift down in no particular direction
(we already cut the compass from our
neck & bellies being born)
front-loaded, back & heel biters fed, then trampled
hung and fed again
( the brother in my coalition held
me and cut the cord he had strung around my neck
to keep me womb bound. he breaks my skin
to free me every waking moment.)
it hurts me to look at myself or to seek recognition of
that thing in my granny's photo for instance she is barely
darker than the picture itself & the planes of her
face are unmarked but the same shape as her son
my father and myself
& her eyes are too soft &
seeking from a distance & i am in mediation
with the mirror & my father's mad glitter
washing over that unworldly blackness it is
difficult to pull anything out from under such dreaming
as to eat all color seen into a reflection
of leather rue & gold Holy Ghost water
dark with curative powers, pure & black,
the waters rose in her & she would
sing spears black-red healing deep
& high steady shouts to the sky
in no frenzy whatsoever she knew what
goes up stays where the hand in
faith places it firmly. she had no reason to
look at the world already in her as her son
my father and myself wake daily
in but not of as well & with only
the grace of constant fear & a line
of sight out of mind, too heavy
with bodies & distraction to do
anything other than carry
that gaze through a horizon bent
through our mouths pulling
our skin over each other's faces
like fishhooks. we often become desperate
and would rather tear apart than
meet our own eyes in any other face. we
are so strong that any softness that rolls
down over our fixed attentions is
entirely for our own benefit. i am best to
fight & kiss with my hands behind my back &
cannot offend with touch which cannot reach us besides,
always as far away at any point from beginning.
when he/i found out that i/we had
been raped the desecration
of ourselves was so complete
that any anger seemed
ridiculous as the permanent
gesture of our joint seeking
that he was embarrassed &
could not muster to more
than half the words near blood
drawn over blood. this was so close
it could only be our fault & only
in me though at every moment we are
so bound in sense that he closed
us in silence to come back to ourselves
so that we could continue to dream. i
had nothing and could only watch him
play us out over my body slack &
sown to his at every territory &
point where we begin & i have always
been as far away as he could carry me.
these are warm days and she
sits heavy-hipped in plastic
slowly giving in to heat singing deep
from the dirt beneath
her concrete. she stares and whistles low
against time so as to surprise herself
out of it. she is swallowing each breath
to give it back and fill herself to
the space between the leaves always
throttling light from her against finding
limb or contour. of only breath to become
lean enough to climb the trees to the
houses of others lazy-eye notwithstanding.
this deep hollow clears her up and up
the stairs before dark, she rescues herself
at the hour and always intends to stay
but in unceasing panic rises quickly
above the settling sun.
to be driven neither by hunger nor jealousy.
to disarm the open hand
to be held and unmade,
to come undone, interior. to be outside of
(sight and hands on self and heaven, to be burned
rather than cleaned, to be washed by congealed ash,
to lose skin, to sleep night after night in dead skin)
(something about my shadow)
when i was a child i would dream
of being sick in ways that would
unfurl everyone’s tongue towards me in long
sweet trails of forgiveness, impeccable &
untouchable. i wanted to shrink, to lose my height
to become the winding little pile of lace bones
invisible to the eye that laid blind inside of me,
cut-out organs shifting, too large, too heavy . i wanted
my hair to go white and my breasts to fall off. i wanted big
blue veins that beat visibly under my temples whenever i was
frightened. i wanted my mother to fear my death more than anything.
i wanted to hold nothing but that fear, all other people finally
meaningless. i did not want to be a part of anyone.
i wanted people to make up the parts of me in their memory.
i wanted to be made of stories in their head that would fade as they aged.
i wanted to be a dream and a tight heart and something too fragile to hate
if you had anything decent in you.
(now it is proper to make a sundial that counts out what shadow at which
hour gets cast)
if you are not interested in yourself then you can learn
much about everyone around you by turning into a bit of nitrite,
a little steel plate of tracking that rings with the right step. you don’t even
have to be fixed to the ground, you can wear thin and go to pieces
still go to town, keep the rain out, freeze or sear in season.
you don’t have to remember anything. if something important happened
they would tell you.
i can build a hebdomadal situation with you,
reconvene every seven days, not weekends or
all weekend, each night or just one night but
everything is about repetition, the erotic constant?
that i can’t complain or claim about you. what to know. you
know that i don’t believe in you i believe in your talent. i am not too
interested in myself and so i am a little legion & you are more so,
you terraform. you don’t even speak to the other side of the earth, & you made it in your
head. i break ground also i grow islands on my back & usually i won’t let the people living there
(i don’t let people have their own reasons for things and
if they do & i don’t agree i tear them up/they know about it/ i walk away.)
(i love people for my own reasons and even liars like to whisper my name
in their sleep with their hand on their cock so)
i’ve broken thousand dollar things in my life and will do so again,
in my own fixative dance i will careen
into something valuable.
my heart is breaking open with tenderness and foreboding. it is in this way
i become conscious of my faults, whether in between my
seeing lies fear or the refusal to
hold what is most damning.waking up to pretend
the sun is in my chest, radiant in
every step of my being eaten
filling lungs and lower, lower as
the day pools at my feet. unseeming,
edge to edge clearly dividing these stories
into felt and known.
(i hold your face you will be my wife)
every single green hill i
have mounted has become a helix. i can count
beta, delphi, each radio frequency smitten with
my blood i can see it most days. hardly ever do i go walking, i don’t ever
leave this place my heart is too steady for that. i can’t take tea. i can’t do water.
long lessons about the humble origins of blue glass or
deep indigo, whatever people first made them i think they were dutch they
are masters of precise & artisanal consumption so i think
the heavy war-ready sea-glass came from them like bicycles and
blackface. (bicycles are french. the religion of the bicicletta was
born in holland, the italian word is in blackface here.)
this glass gets taken to the very bottom of the ocean where
many creatures bind themselves one to another
and reach incredible lengths and shape
themselves to the dark salt waves and stillness
that has nothing to do with us. it is good at table and won’t
break even if it falls to pieces and ends up without
its color a thousand years out of the light.
(the last thing on my lips will not be enough to let you go free)
you will have to find the dealer yourself. maybe you can find
something on the floor or in the back of the church.
i am lying here with you waiting for all the flame-red
pearls in the world to staccato out a holy heart for you,
our bones into gold flowing with you into sleep.
i will keep watch over us always & share half a memory.
i am honey & cream all-the-time in the morning, you hate
bees although they can’t kill you, which means
there is nothing here in my hands for you.
Jamondria Marnice Harris is a poet & multimedia artist living in Portland, OR. They use words, sounds, wires, instruments, textiles & what falls into their hands to engage with blackness, desire, decolonization, fairy tales, femme supremacy, & body horror. They are a VONA Workshop Fellow and a lecturer in the first year of Home School Pdx, a Pop-Up art school funded by the PICA Precipice Award, among other things.
Photograph by Christie MacLean