There’s a sparseness of the tongue / a not-quite-what-I-mean / all of the time, I mean. / b/c it’s a fact / the word is not the thing— / but why? / i’d ask the sky / but it’s only / S-K-Y. … I ask you / how can the universe fit / between / A and Z?
—Em B, from her poem “Poesy,’ that was published in the Pomona Valley Review under her birth name.
I held a lot of good hearts once, I was more than just a ship
with a flawed captain, I was a vessel of potential, rode
the seaway of love, a barge full of flavor & harmony & you’re
trying to put the blame on me but the blame should not lie
with my infrastructure, America, it should lie with yours,
for years I’ve watched you abandon your artists, watched you
deny them the water to grow, so closefisted with your cash,
so urgent with your need to make a buck after they rise though
but never provide anything for their growth to get there & now
my hull is covered in eviction notices, signed & stamped from
every major city inside you, even though I was worst-case scenario,
was faulty boiler & no damage control, I was an overflowing sickbay,
& more than just a building, you know, but I don’t think you know
what the word sacred means, you bleed money for the filthy & already
spilling over & ignore what is pure & in need. I don’t like your face,
America, I don’t like what you’ve become, but wait—I mean—who
am I trying to fool here, me or you, because really—I don’t like
what you’ve always been, & I want to ask you why but I know
there’s too much blood in your mouth to spell it all out.
Amanda Oaks is the founding editor of Words Dance Publishing, an independent press, literary blog and biweekly online poetry journal. Her works have appeared in numerous online and print publications, including decomP, Stirring, and Thought Catalog. She is the author of four poetry collections: Hurricane Mouth (NightBallet Press, 2014), her co-authored split book, I Eat Crow (Words Dance, 2014), and her series of free music-inspired eChapbooks. Find out more: WordsDance.com.