Phrases​ ​That​ ​Might​ ​Be​ ​Helpful​ ​In​ ​Locating​ ​a​ ​Starting​ ​Point
Janelle Effiwatt
Where I'm from is getting
spilled over. We take smoke
breaks during Purim on
every-other-Tuesday; try
not to get caught looking
all slack-jawed or
broken-homed when people ask,
“are there really black Jews?”

        ---

They don't tell you when you migrate
from Africa you’re now specifically
from Africa
and that's all folks really want to know.
Is there weather?
Where are all your brothers?
Can you count to one gazillion?

        ---

I am against forgetting how
the ground can open up. How
silent a black man can really get;
how Exodus tapped into my dad’s
sexless astrology, how he wept
over it and then braided my hair
quite poorly.

        ---

Yes it is possible to separate
dirt from the snow. You know
how academia works and
it works. How to be
breakable? Slit the lights on
look at that brown face, skull and all,
say cheese.

        ---

In this version we don’t North America,
we run fast. In this literature
our gestures bloom, witness the burn
of caps lock. We’ll know our white
mothers are really our
white mothers,
maybe love some history.

Janelle Effiwatt is an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.


more by Janelle Effiwatt:
2006​ ​Elida​ ​St.