[ToC]

 

4 POEMS

Khadijah Queen

 

 

FROM I'M SO FINE: A LIST OF FAMOUS MEN & WHAT I HAD ON

I never met Bill Cosby but I met Beverly Johnson at Magic Mountain with my dad & my sister one summer in the mid-1980s & she had on an oversized cardigan & jeans ripped at the knee casual but lovely my dad chatted her up while we rode the Colossus with her daughter he said he asked for her number & she politely declined I remember her grace & regality & lace-up boots with her feet crossed at the ankle as she sat on the bench so when she went public about Cosby drugging & trying to assault her I immediately believed her & not him & I have seen enough of powerful men by now to know she had nothing to gain by getting in the fray & the truth of beauty means both spotlights & shadows find you & it takes more than instinct to know where to stand on the stage & I don't mean looks all the time I mean all women are all beautiful by right of existence & I wish we knew it in ways that make us realize the relative insignificance of the arrangement of external features so we might as well not get so caught up & my dad had a lot of nerve right I mean some men have a lot of nerve in general & I think my sister & I had on matching Hawaiian shirts that day & wore them tucked in I didn't wear that shirt again & not long after that I fell in love with fashion & asked my dad to start buying me issues of Vogue

 

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FROM I'M SO FINE: A LIST OF FAMOUS MEN & WHAT I HAD ON

Watching Kool Moe Dee on Unsung makes me think about celibacy I mean he never married or had children & although one friend says he has women on rotation another calls him the monk MC but I just think he's an introvert & maybe scarred by his father stabbing his mother a hell of a thing to witness at 12 & it makes me wonder if being alone isn't easier but a braver choice to be at peace with your own expectations rather than those of others & it made me wonder if another year free of men might turn into five or ten or the rest of my life like my mother who feels perfectly content spending her time not cooking any man's food or washing his underwear & made me wonder if I could do more or less with my life if I had a man in it or if my son is missing out on more than he should & it made me wonder if I am enough but only for a minute because I realized I like my body unassailed by tenderness or roughness & free of obligation & I tried to make my teenager watch the video for "Wild, Wild West" on YouTube he gave it 30 seconds pressed pause & backed out of the room I probably should have played "How Ya Like Me Now"

 

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FROM I'M SO FINE: A LIST OF FAMOUS MEN & WHAT I HAD ON

I went to a fancy steakhouse & my class was showing by that I mean working class by that I mean I had worked a lot of overtime & wanted to treat myself but I couldn't help hearing Martin Lawrence saying on his TV show "I like my women classy, not showing all the assy" when I got there because for a supposedly classy bunch at the steakhouse I saw a whole lot of assy I mean y'all it was a lot of T&A & it shocked me a little that so many women over 60 could or would wear skintight sequined mini dresses & 5-inch heels & grind on their toupeed or grayed men grooving with their paunches on an outdoor dance floor while a cover band played This is How We Do It &  some of them were really drunk & I thought wow is this what I looked like when I was in my 20s ridiculous & stuffed into discomfort & sans age spots & aggressive dye I can't believe I believed in it & what does that say about me & what does it mean when a woman past retirement age in a red Leger & Louboutins stumbles past me her platinum-encrusted hand shaking before her martini glass slipped & shattered on her squeak & her companion around the same age with a gentle white fro kind of fell into our table & couldn't stop himself & the busboy cleaning up the drink had to hold him upright at the same time & when I saw all of that I felt a lot of emotion I felt uncomfortable I felt confused I felt like I was at a human circus & still I thought how sad how terrible & how strange a culture that this is what fun looks like to some people while admitting I had a kind of fun people-watching & the food was divine & the band played Prince which made me both happy & sad & not like dancing & I came home with leftover orange tamarind salmon & garlic mashed potatoes & a little of the sliced squash but not the apple cake & maybe yes I felt out of place with my TJ Maxx outfit I had on a loose silk top that fell past my hips neon pink with a triple-layered hem & split back with ripped jeans & my shoes unremarkable inch-high tan leather wedges since I can't wear heels anymore & was I being a hater & what if I could would I & would that be me in 20 years if I could still stuff myself into discomfort & variously pretend so petty or not petty it felt like I had been through present & past or heaven & hell at once then back to earth which is home in my university sweats making my son a grilled cheese & cracking jokes with a lingering sidecar wit & I didn't see any celebs that night that night the stars didn't know who they were or they did & both fought against the dying & rushed toward it & you could call this angsty navel-gazing or midlife crisis or instead a clarity of observation

 

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ON STAYING ALIVE IN LIMINAL SPACES

Overused, that word, these days,
like me, like what I've done
to my self, a body ever in revolt,
no fiercer than anything manmade.
A way to continue is to take
even a timed quiet I can pour
what I've seen into.  That's art
in a magazine, torn cyanotype, inverted.
Papercut on my thumb a red centimeter
of a mouth asking what. Saying how we fail
is how we continue. If I want out or else
a step must be taken. Walking in the wrong
shoes a leap into the smallest scar of hope.


 

 

 

 

 

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Once I discovered the rapturous, low-key luxury of sweatpants (despite their inelegant name), I realized that if I could wear them everywhere, I would.