“Monsters: Poetry on How to Bite Back”

17200944_10209495942824468_416250654846621757_n

Is your past hellbent on tampering with your present? Are there humiliating truths eating away at your insides that you’d rather not acknowledge? Do you like to laugh? Are you human? You and this book may be a good fit. In her debut project, “Monsters: Poetry on how to Bite Back,” Jacquelyn Swift presents communal turmoils that most of us face in our adult lives, and debunks them with simple solutions. This book is a step-by-step internal monster hunt that includes great poetry meant to, if nothing else, distract you from your own internal drama for a while.

Now available for purchase under “books and bio”!

Bodycount

c917f7f7f709555ace589f5137110c0a

When it is, most of the time it isn’t.

is it?

when you think it is and it really ain’t

you just have to say

“it is what it is.”

Listen to this

A virgin in her twenties doesn’t think about sex!

Shut your mouth, that girl is innocent.

Yet I find myself standing, after church

on a floor without a basement

two stepping at arms-length to Journey’s Small-Town Girl,

on fire.

He wore a sweater vest, and a bow tie, and said things like

“Your teeth are pretty, we should pray together sometime.”

I twirl beneath his arm rotisserie style to both

avoid affirming his offer

and get out of the weird straight-armed embrace

like pre-pubescent kids at a school dance.

These shoes two sizes too tight

My hair, blown in from hot mess express

And breasts strapped ‘neath a sports bra never made for layering hot ass modest church dresses

But titties are for two things: either tantalizing men or feeding babies, and I don’t have children

Because I’ve never had sex

So like a good Proverbs 31 woman, I’m hiding my love balloons

under Goodwill polyester and muted stripes

This bow-tie, sweater vest wearing, praying, mother—

child of God…chatters on in a tone that sounds like he’s got our lives planned out in his head

I making collard greens, our children are in Sunday school

And his mother makes me take her to Macys every first and last Wednesday of the month.

It’s crazy because

This morning

Sitting between the warm velvet legs of my antique sofa

I just thought about sex. What is that, you know?

Yall, I just want to know.

Somebody tell me. Rub the definition against my spine

Until some guy

Or girl

Can trail a brail with their finger tips and read into the depraved subtext that lives

In every pore, divot, curve, dip, slip, and slit

Of this 20 year old body

This body that has never tried on any other

Bodies

In this lifetime

Where is mine?

While watching the Kama Sutra Pareidolia in my X-rated coffee foam

There were these two junkyard dogs begging outside my apartment

The human in the situation shared his salami with the mutt

Who made the most noise

Silence has never been fed, and I’m red with the sentiments of

Of that Halden Hound’s hunger

“Where is mine!” my vagina barked to no one in particular.

You can imagine what a strange Sunday this was.

Sliding on stockings while salivating over something that’s supposed

to damn soul from salvation.

Even so

At twenty years old

It’s a shame for such desire to be wasted

But that seems very long ago now

As again I pirouette my modest sack clothed form

Beneath the increasingly sweaty arm of Mr. Bow Tie who likes my teeth.

I was pretty sweaty too, I guess.

All these pure bodies, bound by covenant to keep their legs closed

eyes up, hands folded and drink warm red punch while

Sardined down here

where the music is too soft to twerk to.

“is anything wrong?” he asked.

But what I heard was festival of invitation

My mind put me on a carousel where

He was Idris Elba and just got robbed of his shirt, pants, and dignity

Amen,

I had to make him feel a man again somehow!

Add him to my non-existent body count

Try on whatever he could do without

His sweat, flesh, wet, we don’t have to be done yet!

Dwele serenades us in the background, “it’s all yours now”

He said it, I didn’t. But what are we going to do about it?

I had to check myself

Answer his question before this headache of a Sunday night got any weirder

“yes I’m fine.”

But that woman was not fine, she was not that woman, and what everyone thought was

Was not.

Truth is, now, 5 years later

I’m a star child with dreadlocks, a passport, and a Rollercoaster fetish

Truth is I don’t want children, I’m vegan, and I study with a Guru

that never pretends to be anything he isn’t. I learn a lot from him

truth is I’ve had sex, and I was damn right to want it

and you know what?

it is what it is.

And 5 years ago it was a mask. Grins, lies, and borrowed beliefs buried

in my underwear.

There’s a Leak in This Old Building

eae957fdad941d7dc6b02f83a107f110

 

The last thing my mother said to me before sunset

Was to be still: she drank tea in the presence of hymnals, & so

Made peace possible. If she could create it, I

Will also, someday become a parade of ash beneath the glory of incense smoke.

I will someday be so honored to have peace. Then,

 

That night, I walked through the pale half-dark caused by the moonlight

Of the bayou, from the wide open honest stretch of green water, proud lilies

Up stream & in those seconds, alone

I stopped waiting for an answer that only demanded more questions

Stopped sinking long enough to understand that my world is made of quicksand

Right now.

 

Made of sharp bleeding edges, arsenic, and of

Winter’s breath lifting frozen sickness

up and through the anatomy of the unsuspecting and the weak

no cities of light. No fruits and sounds. Once,

 

When we helped my sister give birth in the bath, I thought

What a show of agony. I wondered,

How much pain a body could endure before it ran out of noises to express it

before nothing else mattered but the pain and production of it.

 

Out of respect for the birthing process

I did not ask any questions

 

Out of respect for the peaceful and peace-living

My mother

I have to say

 

This isn’t the whole story

The truth is in the unmade bed,

The shattered dishes, the swamp of laundry curtaining my house

My mother is a maker of all things peaceful, but

I breathe out tombstones and apocalyptic conditions

Unlivable.

It’s in bad taste to judge one’s own tendencies in this way. Tell me,

How would you put it?

 

The hymnal goes: there’s a leak in this old building & the soul

Has got to move

Move like a repositioning embryo beneath a rib

Napping on a sciatic nerve of consciousness

I’m not like my sister, I can’t deal with that.

 

 

I went to an airport just to smell travel

And day dream the possibility of being far

Away.

And in my pretend travel bag:

My mother’s incense sticks, patchouli, rosemary for my hair, and my sister’s Seabands

I held it close to me until I fell asleep next to a woman who’d missed her flight

But was too upset to go back home

Her cries were not as  sharp as birth

But enough to relate to.

To sink beneath

 

Descending, I looked down into the light lacquering fields

dreaming of red and purple blossomed vines, and

massive groups of people and more people and more people

all wet and tearful but smiling

because the water was clean, the air was breathable and their children were fed

then a flash of light

then nothing

then awake

 

because there is death

because there are voices I may never hear again

there are things I want to remember

about self-inflicted grief and what it does to us

 

We forget:

The warmth of a mother’s essential oil infuser, her whisper “breathe child”

Forget the miracle of first breath

And the promise that there are no promises

For tomorrow, for love, for perfect, for happy…even health

 

There is only mandatory

adventure.

Feels Good to Be Desired by Women Other Than You

53b37970b264f9875fc6081ad05698ef
I hope you get so much attention that you go blind
that you can’t see what you have
and are forced to lose it
I hope it continues not to matter
so that you are able to see how imperative it was
when it was
when it’s not no more
I hope for swells of music pulling at your loins
so that you can’t tell an apple from a pear
a tree in Eden from a promise not to
a diamond, from a piece of literal fecal matter on the street
                                                                     —my desire is worth less

Married Without a Boat

tumblr_oql3jhMYiB1rt05vro1_r1_400

But you will attempt to learn him like Grandmama’s memory Bible verse

Black Leather bound and dust bitten, the verse about bending low like reeds in prayer.

you will be patient through nights when his shadow slides across the 3AM wall claiming

“I had to work late.”

You can warm him a plate, but don’t worry yourself too hard, at least he’s home.

You won’t understand him, but you will understand the snail’s trails of tears and snot. Suck it up.

you will spend a Month of Sundays kneeling until your knees bleed. You’ll beg

the divine for an oil lamp to peer into his chest  lined with landmines and firebombs and

maybe soil for a growing soul. But some souls be like project homes

boarded up and witnessing a street fight too murderous for fists.

You will sometimes hear gunshots beneath the timbre of his voice.

You can have resentment but often it will exhaust you like the tea kettle letting out a whistled sigh

As her belly burns on the eye of your stovetop. Then you’ll realize you too will burn and explode

Into a fresco of scorching smoke one day soon.

You can have his teeth. So solid, almost porcelain. His mouth is Toilet-like… so this helps you

not to cling so tightly to his words or changing promises.

You won’t understand the role of a wife.

Blossoming occasionally as would warmed over tree-top flowers. Peaceful and never screaming, never

Bribing the Sun to melt you down to dust for the Earth. He will tell you to endure, sweat, and forgive.

You can speak to him in his own language of cut and bite.

And it will mean more than anything you have ever mumbled in your sleep

You can visit the silk Lavender Roses at your Aunties grave and try to remember what she taught you

Of being a woman. You can understand the dead better than the living, sometimes.

She said the words Unconquerable and Phenomenal. You want these words to hold hands inside of you

As if they would spend a lifetime remaking you.

But you are not broken. You can be grateful for the lemon flavored sugar water, the pot of greens, and

And the sock-it-to-me pound cake only you make.

Grateful for your capacity for inconsolable sadness and Jazz music about the struggle

Grateful for thirsts, and begging, and shamefulness, and 3AM.

All these things have left you at his feet, and they will gather to watch you get up

You can understand your uninterpreted dreams about Mint Julips and Augusta sweet tea weddings

You can also replace them with dreams of Ethiopia. Your people, and your children borne of you

and the Sun come together. You and your golden children will drink from streams, and dance

to a rhythm you’ve known by heart since before you even had a body.

Dream of a marriage to brazen heat and love, and sanded over nights in Morroco without a boat.

But he is not the Sun,

And you won’t understand him

Although You can have him.

But if you keep him.

You can’t keep yourself.

 

Photo Cred: “The Flame”- Ekaterina Polyakova

​”The Guillotine Hymn”

Separating the head from the thoracic cavity
scraping the frothed up mold from the meat

Severing the heartbeat from inside the rythem

Giving up

Tearing the loincloth from the ugly parts. Unshaved.

Taking  bread from the baby bird. (Sorry, we’re hungry too)

Twisting the tongue out of the cows mouth for dinner, divide bovine from taste,

 dinner from saying grace

Ain’t nobody prayed around here for a long time

So…Just…

don’t tell nobody how we went out like zombies, hanging bodies, or blood baths like red sacrificial waters

There was no honor in this fall

We failed and then we fell

Will you tell them, we dropped of cliffs like silver streamers

Spiraling in beads of light all the way down?

Tell them we created two new holes in the Earth 

where diamonds grew

And we buried ourselves beneath them.

Now sickly, and lived in, but still warm

I let the lesions, scabs, and pustules

Plaster the crysalis of my face

I do not need pretty when my soul chokes up dirt

From it’s lungs.

I will wake up in one thousand years a goddess.

I will wake up, no longer grounded to the flesh

Or the couch, or the thoughts, or the kitchen sink,

The bathroom floor, or even the subtle skyline

I will watch words fall into your lap like a glass of white wine

Built to Collapse

But we will not cry

We will not cry

We will not cry

We will not cry

We will not cry

We will not cry

We will not cry

This time.

For Wives Built to Collapse 3

Fear of loss whispers beneath the pulse of love

I guess.

But what of valuing her sacrifice?

What of taking that cling for devotion instead of weakness?

What of seeing the stupid shit you do as shit you just shouldn’t do without having to be put in check over it.

Beautiful black man,

You want the best for her independence 

You want to be unsure that your mistakes will be forgiven

This fire is fifty percent of what will keep you honest (love is the other half)
Though good for her personal growth

One has to wonder at the thoughts that go through a woman’s mind once she knows her husband is not 

Afraid enough of losing her.

Well first she looks at her options…an abundance 

Then her appearance… Well over adequate

Her age… appropriate for doing just exactly what the fuck she wants

She chose a ring over all this because it symbolized an eternal fear for fear of loss

But apparently that is not enough

It’s not enough

You’ve not seen her temptation

Her resistance

Witnessed her brazen need unraveling by the rind

Revealing white hot possibilities of what she could be doing

Should be doing at 25…she gave up 25 for you

And virginity, and one night stands, and passion, and experimentation, and a lover, and a lover…and another lover.

Though you love her, and it’s working at the moment 

That other half moon, half feeling you have

That is fearless as a wolf

Not afraid of her walking away…

I wouldn’t be too sure about that

Your comfort will kill you

I would observe a little closer

Don’t  be too overly secure 

That shit works both ways you know.

For Wives Built to Collapse 2

7617ce3f2188e2ff92910dbbf6bed5b8

 

Who hasn’t french kissed  a corpse…or a body that might as well be one. The rind of intimacy is as inedible as the outside of a coconut, and I am a hungry woman.

In the sexless chamber I find myself trapped in, strapped down to a table with no plastic members or things that vibrate

just restraints and a cute feathery outfit…

everything in the room becomes wet in some way, erotic, humanized, depraved. A pillow, a bean bag chair…

I am undressing the sofa, slowly peeling back the layers silk covering to reveal a soft cotton inside…perfect for a ride.

any hard edge will do.  a counter top, sanded smooth and glossed down to a sexy marble.

But this won’t be a manifesto of object humping.

unless the Muse can be considered an object. More often than not, on nights I remain repressed, and untouched there must be a resistance to the dim moon bulb that tugs the Muse and I toward meeting points at the center of the planet.

I have never needed so much to know how hot a friction fire would burn between bodies that got away from each other in their due time.

I want his insatiability inconveniencing me the night before I have to go to work. I want the ripping off of stockings, toes in mouth, pelvis in back when I’m trying to sleep.

I want to wake up to a curious weight on top of me. A question mark dripping with pre-ejaculate, and the drool you might expect from a Pitt-bull over a steak

I want to be a steak, primed and painted in honey, glistening sauce, beloved salt he’d lick off

I want to be dry rubbed until I buck like the cattle that provided the meat.

Muse is a meat eater…while others graze on memories of women from the past…or maybe not women at all

just the mundane, the American lifestyle, the news, the sleep.

I too have a basic need. sometimes I feel unsexed, you know like the opposite of a woman. Like a man is controlling the impulses between thighs not opened often enough

and I suppose that’s okay.

for the single woman. All she’d have to do is go get it.

but I must wait. strapped to a table for my own good.

 

 

 

 

The Hang Up 

One mouth to the other

But never touching 

Words were the most intimate thing about them. 

Not anymore though.

A kiss from the breath of an understood tear,

 the height of a skyscraping shoulder to lean on

Both Leaning toward oceans and mango flavored waters

There was enough hurt to to inhale and cause water on the lungs

But at least they could talk right?

Not anymore.

Phone cradled to ear against graveyard silence

“Hello? hello?” Yes I am here inside your mind

Talk to me all night I don’t mind

Minds get hung up on detail,

 get hung up on daily, 

So the brain tickles itself. Cheers itself up enough to laugh at stuff that’s not funny.

I love the feeling of being cut off.

It thrills me to relive the memory of you leaving me

When you threaten me with losing the fresh strawberry lit feild of undistorted friendship we’ve remade out of bossle wood…I faint into glorious splinters and happiness

A happiness unparalleled by the chills of  glee it gives me to get cut off mid sentence and met with dead air.

I care about you. 

So deeply that my skeleton has mutilated my smooth off-white bones stained red 

and been carving manifestos inside me

But if I mention you being inside me you might stop reading so scratch that.

I thought we needed each other lately, to take the edges off, to create more edges and a little bit of light, a little bit of velvet in a world 

Where love can feel like polyester or dollar store denim 

Where love can feel like back alley beatings and drunken bouncers dragging our flailing frames onto the street, trailing our bodily puddles behind us.

Where love is a complication and is not complimented by recieving more of itself.

In such an atmosphere, we could have been simple.

That’s all I was offering. A safe place to meet in the middle, put our shit in a pile and smell it.

Gross, but it would have been okay because at least we could get it out.

You hung up and I am constipated

Thank you for that. Thank you for that again and again and again, you damn gift that keeps on givin’

Like a bad piece of fish, or the flu, or narcotics, or sanded over nights in Morroco without a boat

Since I didn’t get a chance to say it over the phone

Goodnight.

6 Minute Massage

44e799497b941b9e3128fb60a6d4fd79

Warning: spicy explicit content

One touch is enough to rupture.

and The Love is within me. It compels me.

The Love has spikes and tendons, and a wet vagina.

The Love has lived here so long it no longer knows how to articulate itself, so it stares at you uncomfortably. Likes it when you stare back.

I am no stronger against how much I love you

than I was the day you left

and it’s okay.

The Love wants to talk to you for the next 6 years straight without ceasing. It slips through cracks and leaks down walls just to get a whiff

It gets the body to phone you just so it can hear you…know that you really

……you really do exist.

The day she came to you

You gave her a massage

and you have no idea what happened.


 

The Love felt his hands and immediately thought it was having an orgasm

up, down, left, right, press,

his hands were only on the sore parts of her back , and they were warm

press, down, lower, up

warm enough that they could have been on her thighs and The Love encouraged that.

up, side, side

Soon, The Love imagined those same hands at odds with themselves.

Trying to do the right thing, and stay sliding on the innocent map of her back

but failing happily, and curling around to the twin mounds of her breasts.

her nipples were erect, so erect that they began to ache

and the Love was so pleased with that

that it refused to let her resist it.

press, press, press, down

The Love continued to imagine. It could feel him squeeze her nipples so tight that she would suck in a pinch of air before biting her bottom lip.

he didn’t know any of this.

As the reggae played, and his hands played….The Love played with the mind

Her body started to think itself naked. The red of the walls began to come in closer, and it was then that she realized no amount of displaced focus was going to make her feel clothed at this moment.

the muse was skillful in the art of being so deep inside her psyche that there was no way a cage could lock away this part of the desire

up…side…press, press,

now nude…The Love was having fun.

his full lips found the beginning of her spine,  and the back of her neck was on fire.

he tattooed kiss burns down the length of her back, making some kind of ancient blister art that neither of them understood, but she would keep it forever.

The Love wanted more fire. Wanted to feel that burn further down…and at this point the body was a vessel for pleasure.

As he kneaded, she needed.

“spread your legs” whispered The Love, “so very wet…let him touch you. You know you need this. He needs this”

up, press, side, side

He still didn’t know any of this.

So imagined naked, and burned from his kiss, now lying on her back (in the bedroom she’d not seen but knew was there) she and The Love looked up into his cosmicontinental eyes.

Oh, what light.

what hunger…what passion!…what fear….what longing!

“What will he do to us?” The body wanted to know.

“He’s going to have us like you have always dreamed,” spoke The Love, “he will be gentle, but he will take his fill. He will devour and you will no longer be separate entities. You will swallow him and he will stay there forever. Open your body to this universe in a body.”

The Love was ready for the lust that dripped from every pore on the man’s body. Finally his mouth grazed the tip of her right nipple, then the left, then he bit…

oh my.

His right hand found its way to that wetness, and he reveled in her physical reaction to him. Licking his fingers clean, he went back to her flower for more,  this time, fingers inside and a hand on her chest so she couldn’t sit up

The restraint was too much, he was a DOM! The Love had always thought him a leader

but in the bedroom too? The Love wanted to hold back her feral moans of intensity, but it came in waves and she couldn’t help but cry out. Following the lead of her ragged breath and mews, his mouth replaced his fingers.

“oh spread wider, yes! Let him taste, let him all the way in, this is only the beginning,” The Love couldn’t think straight.

press, up, up, down

in reality the body was lying across the arm of the couch and the man, the muse, ….innocently rubbing the her back…but the body, unbeknownst to the muse

was vibrating.

“grab his head, make him come back up to you. There now, can you taste yourself? Can you taste him? Are you ready?” asked The Love

“I’m ready when you are.” said the body.

The Love and the body simultaneously gasped as he eased the head in , savoring the tightness of her walls. a flower so inviting and moist elicited a low growl from him. enough to warn her to brace herself.

press, down, down, down,

in…. out…. in…out, in deeper….out..in

The bed shook so hard that something fell off the night stand and shattered, the crash only made him go harder. His breath was warm in her ear

“You’re mine.  You’ve always been,  and it’s time I showed you.” he pinned her arms and kissed her so sweetly in contrast to how the rest of his body handled her

she was sent over the edge

“take it baby. I’m here for you now.” The Love responded.

in out in out in out in out

down, down , press, up

in , out , in , out

press press pre—

“I’ve got to get up. that’s enough, I have to get up.”

“I’m sorry, I thought you were enjoying it.”

“I was.”

“are you alright?”

“yes, let’s do something else now”

“okay. well…do you want to have a look at the garden? And please finish the smoothie. You need to eat.”

“Spoken like a true DOM. look at him protecting you. Taking care of you” The Love peeped. The body ignored it this time.

“Yes, lets go to the garden. What are you growing?”

“An edible festival.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the Wives Built To Collapse

99edac1d83a1a8294dbad21ce580c733

What is in there that you’re trying to smoke out?

What happened in Memphis to make this simple thing so complicated that you can’t articulate it

do your visions of real  possibility, and left over fantasy from Mizz Twerk Sumn collide to make an effigy your member wants to stand on?

are you lusting other women and trying to suppress it?

or one specific woman you’re picturing naked?

are you in that seat that’s not quite guilt but on the cusp of Single-man-envy

where every memory seems to crawl back into beds warmed over in orgasm and sweat

have you gotten off to them yet? The thoughts that haunt but soothe at the same damn time

The notions of woman, upon woman, from grocery store, the club, at work, at church, Vegas, Atlanta, and  the Dirty south…

The one from the past you never talk about

do you imagine yourself in her mouth?

This is every married woman’s gentle nightmare only bested by the ACT of cheating.

yet every married woman with this problem has chosen to marry a straight man with two testicles and a taste for meat.

not all of them have a pride complex and not all of them would sacrifice the forever for the temporary…not all of them are broken

you are not broken…

and though I don’t know what you are I won’t stop hard loving you, or understanding you.

I won’t stop clipping the wings from my fears and emotions build for flights into hell…to hear you clearly.

Too many colors here, too much potential here

My love is too alive to have to bury beneath under our officiant’s feet.