17th Street Review


Safi Brown

When God said “genesis”

We went ahead and mistook it for shame

I’ve seen dogs hold their tails between their legs after

Pissing in the wrong place — 

We are not the only creatures

Bound and abandoned to bad habits and self aware ness/ I know after a long winded harvest of mean dreams and super villains: that a Mecca of art like stuff awaits on the other end,

This awkward cannibal keeps eating finger nails and hair follicles because — well shit he means well and is trying to stay off the hard stuff, i.e. human flesh — the boogey man is a misunderstood sociology professor/ who drinks too much and misses his daughter/ my fingers are swollen from clenching to the attics in mason jars/ I wear a necklace of fireflies that I don’t know much about/ dark times only await when I stand still long enough/ words are stagnant with their history/ violence leaves my body every time I choose “Love!” And we are Mavericks on Sunday’s/ she is a Pisces/ so is my father

I am a Virgo so is her father/

Her hands do enough work to engulf both my collar bones —  I collect her laugh for Monday’s/

Violence leaves my body every time I choose “God!”/ all my friends are made from

Sky paint and retribution

All my friends

All my friends

I choose to love them radically/

I do not like hugs and forehead kisses

But I love the sound of a women’s voice with my ear pressed against her chest —  I dream in places that remind me of my mother on a good day/ another poet shot himself in the mouth he combusted into dandelion seeds/ I’ve spread him out in corporate concrete hoping for release/ she illustrates “love!” With moon dust and fish scales — 

How God it is to know this/ an African woman was dreading my hair when I was 10 she read my palms and said I ought to be a writer, I wrote a story about the water when I was in third grade, my mother has kept it since/ she is an Aquarius and bares high water like horizon shards/ my father is a Pisces and has fins like a Pegasus/

I wrote a poem for my grandfather, signed it with all my love and god does not belong to me

And god does not belong to me/

But there is a swell hummingbirds between my ears because they work hard to stay alive — 

I work hard to stay alive

So do all my friends

All my friends are awkward cannibals staying off the hard stuff,

I bite my nails and used to pull my hair out and burn it/ I blink too much when I’m nervous because I am taking snapshots of time/ I only know the sun and moon and fireflies/ I did not know you can shake them

Dead in mason jars/ I did not know that I’d been playing dead for many years/ i revised the fireflies to shed light and edit death as a less tragic thing/ I told god there are starving babies and a war going on/ so please let me be/ he had none of it/ he has all of me/

Water is just outer space/I saw a turtle the size of a living room once!

Chickens are tiny dinosaurs and human beings are little apes — 

It makes me smile when I realize I live in a sphere/ I want to learn god all at once so does she/ so do all of my friends

I’ve been called a firefly a second time in this life/ there are not many rooms for coincidence/ I walked into a coincidence maze and it was satirical and strange/

I walk into a god hole and it was unsettling and big/

I do not know the difference between fireflies and lightning bugs/

I know they both huddle on the upsides of my heart,

I know they are small and seek the opposite of oblivion — 

I am also small and seek the opposite of oblivion

I believe in the dark sides of “god!”

I believe it doesn’t make them any less godly/ just elongated thick skin

And there are no tricks here/ just a cacophony of some new things to learn.

Like the way violence sings out of our bodies and manifest in mercy.

Brutality walks into a room/

Filled with fireflies and rainbow fish from the moon/ I give you my hands unclenched and divinely feminine

To say: look how far we’ve come.

© 2021 17th Street Review