Four Poems by Schyler Butler


If Forced to Join Maleatra Montanez

know that he will say
your legs burst wide
like syrup poured
his throat the drain
what was he to do
but unload blame onto
your blackstrap skin
slaughter within you
what little dignity
remained, boy child
of yours in the corner
forever tamed, another
receptacle of shame

What the Devil Tells Me

I wouldn’t blame your father
or the other guy your mama
married, nor the ones who took
her short-skirt-saunter as the opposite
of a corrupted child, leaving her
like a soiled tissue no one dares
touch. Boys will be boys and boys
don’t behave like men, can’t clutch
the fragile wisps of a girl’s sanity 
before the cracks zigzag the cortex
further. Boys crumple like the girls
they don’t know how to protect.

From the Slums of Bordering Juarez

you procured the finest weed my military-brat mouth
had ever sucked and released. No other bed could match
the lumpy nirvana yours then became, an often
damp-from-our-juices cache of early 90s grunge and
Little Debbie crumbs. Who woulda thunk those doll-sized
clay hearts molded by your grease-grimed hands
and gifted to me would lead to carnality, what I thought
could be the beginning of a never-waning moon,
no matter the death-stares from your mother as she worked
dough for conchas every morning before you drove me home;
no matter the lack of daytime companionship you provided;
no matter the waxing hours spent away from me
across a border unwatched and thin-streamed. 

The Blacker

Catch me fondling stray thoughts of justice, a place
where the ones who need the most get exactly that.
The color of our skin is no accident if you believe
in God. Do our souls contain the blueprint
of revolution eager to upend that which God made
permissible? And we all know change is a cloud
that can turn into a waterless wisp or omnipresent storm.
Go to any continent and tell me the blacker the berry,
the greater the nonexistence of the enemy’s sword.
Tell me every -ism doesn’t start with the width of one’s
nose. Tell me there must be a victim for every victor
and that war waged against the welcoming
is a war with the most delicious blood.

Schyler Butler received her BA in English from the University of North Texas. Currently, she lives in Columbus, Ohio. Her work appears and is forthcoming in Duende, Superstition Review, Obsidian, Glint Literary Journal, and elsewhere, sometimes under the pseudonym “Iyana Sky”.

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