Plot with the Horses in My Heart/with the Birds in My Mouth

Almost every night uncracks the legend of an ache. The truth is:
I didn’t want to start a poem with night where there should be

a name, but this too is a misgiving—a mortal gamble, that if I am
good enough, I’d live to see another night—the bridge in my ribs

collapsed into a boon—living translated into levity. The truth is,
sometimes I want to hear the giggles of a child in the lightning—

a rhyme in the roar, something we can all marvel about. I miss my
heart & I miss my heart—a calm where the horses come to rest,

a return into its regal. In one myth a black boy offered a beast his
tongue—its hymn & harmonies—hoping it would rewrite hunger

to homily. Some things are not to be said of hunger: imagine how i
fit just dey make I dey get hunger for blood, to siddon in my solemn

& think of a nail driving into a palm, or the horse’s head chopped off
its neck—its body a wet rattle, dying in all the soft place, its visions

with it. *No be say I want diz things, nobody want that kind thing sef
but it’s just my heart riddled with something bigger, something dark

enough to hide its gold. I am not what they say I am: the cattle of me
labors, but what does it get in return?—lashes for a surname. To say

I sabi grief na to say I sabi my papa’ papa slang—the lilt of a lineage.
I wobble my way into the dark, strapped with a crucifix of wounds—

I take to my hands the shreds of my disappointments, mispronounce
my god’s sobriquets—this is not the first time I imagine the dark a lone

chapel, mistaking my shadow on the wall for an angel, wings scraped off
its back. In my mouth, day-old birds shrieking in the dialect of a disaster.

Read on . . .

All-American Biography,” a poem by Paige Buffington

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