LOUDSPEAKER:: Two Poems by Cyree Jarelle Johnson

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WUSSY is proud to present two poems by NYC transfag, Cyree Jarelle Johnson.
If you would like to send in a writing submission, please contact Nicholas Goodly


 

 

YES! It Was I Who Sucked Extras Out of Your Holes!

DAT ASSSSSS! Exclaimed my manager as I teetered
off stage each Sunday, three song set sweatily ended
— an auction packed with feckless, hard-dicked breeders
palming their cocks through their pants, tongues extended
and grabbing my, then, Apollonian biceps, my family-feeders.
I dangled from a trinity of vertical rails, artfully suspended
and showed runaway girls my tricks so they wouldn’t need the stroll
cause they could get that money up on the pole.

Slow day desperation and hunger at the month’s nadir
I count the number of dudes who may want some head
like a neon lion in a slingshot and clear heels sniffs bloodless air,
hoping I didn’t fuck up and pick a cop who would steal my bread.
(Didn’t want to end the night locked up or dead.)
A white guy, with two grown sons in hockey jerseys, appears;
his glass of warm beer glows in blacklight as if hewn from lead,
and cries out DAT ASSSSSS! as I dance for the mirror.
I slip into their party, inform each of my price;
the dad calls me a nigger, slides $200, says it twice.

 

 

 

An Elegy for the Family (W)Rex

O Lord, Sula,” she cried, “girl, girl, girlgirlgirl.”
                                      — Toni Morrison, Sula

Your heel, a shiv slicing open the hide
of some heedless, anonymous creature
                   creeping beneath the El’s wide lip shimmer,
                   circumspect to the stomp of your danger.

Six blocks of rank asphalt & ruined sidewalk
beyond the splintered door jamb you shot out
                   screamer, big-talker, inevitable
                   drifter. Wind and tight handfuls of glitter

thrusted among Philadelphia’s blood
stained Japanese Maples, ridged Watchtowers
                   — their covers splatter-painted, rain tie-dyed.
                   You showed your nipples at my old home club
                                       ATLANTIS: THE HIDDEN TREASURE, awash
                                       with resign. What you want, you’ll never find.

Just resign. What you want, you’ll never find.
Non-profit motivation, still employed
                   (Not in denuded halls I once haunted,
                   but in carpeted cubical devoid

of lucrative potential.) Skeptical
slash resentful of sheltered coworkers.
                   I’d hear my call to the stage DYNASTY
                   LIKE-NO-OTHER! as I snoozed through meetings
                                       snorted awake, afraid of defunct fees.

                                       Together we were The Family (W)Rex
                   Every night, we staged our plays. Seven days
                   a week. Your ass went on for forever,
my plush thighs broader still than dinner trays.
The Brocade Sling! The Vintage Ermine Muff!

One silk slingshot, one vintage ermine muff
four limp black wigs: real hair and plastic thread.
                   You stashed vices in spider holes: codeine
                   tabs, Xanax, and cash. You gathered toys spread

out on the floor into trash bags. My niece
barely had any before you arrived.
                   Her uniform spotless, her blankets rags,
                   a glowering, sullen streak in her eye

for which I don’t blame her. A child, scared.
She rages, mopes, and cries until she chokes
                   opposite Auntcle as novice au-pair.
                   Her mother elsewhere, swathed in Newport smoke
                                       devoured by the slick beast that bore us.
                                       On your leave, at first, I felt empowered.

On your leave, at first, I felt empowered
by my sole successful attempt to set
                   boundaries. (I’d later have so much to grieve.)
                   In the moment, I was spiteful. Contempt

tinted my view of you. More than old friends;
at sixteen, we were closer than sisters.
                   Once we sprinted through Exit 10, Tercel
                   sputtering towards some strained family scene.

                                       Your gossamer Joyce Leslie dress was lewd
                                       as you bent over the rosewood casket,
                   to peer into the face. It looked like you.
                   Zipped up in plastic...that’s it as we bumped
Jay-Z. You clipped your hair, served Amber Rose.
Will you stay awake as the illness grows?

Are you falling asleep? Just in repose?
Does your gown bag like white tees in 00s videos?
                   Does the cocktail leave you gaunt and morose?
                   Do you know of your fate? Is it sour?

I’m far away, but misting as you breathe.
Around me veins split, perineums tear.
                   Infants twist inside their cozy pouches.
                   Comrades shit as they bleed out in bathtubs.

                                       You wane wan, drawn as you blanch in moonlight.
                                       But you’ve beat the piss out better things
                   with nerve enough to try you. O sick sage,
                   I can’t protect you from what the lump brings
but I’d’ve stayed on for the ride and rubbed
your heels as the shiv sliced open your hide.
 

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Cyree Jarelle Johnson is a poet, essayist, and editor living in New York City. They are a Poetry Editor at The Deaf Poets Society and a candidate for an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. They have given speeches and lectures at The White House, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The University of Pennsylvania, Tufts University, and Mother Bethel AME Church, among other venues. Their work has been profiled on PBS Newshour and Mashable.

Follow them on Twitter at @blackTiresias and find their work at cyreejarellejohnson.com!