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Amber Atiya

the fierce bums of doo-wop

chords soaked in gin jam a crowd
as liver-spotted tourists
muscle their way in & outta shake shack
a rodeo of small-town drawls
ride a new yorker’s ear worse
than a bee’s black and gold
pros pocket the picked coin
dark haired mistresses of hell’s kitchen
the drip of feather and faux pearl
from stretched & triple pierced ears
tie up what’s left of the payphones
all of time square spreads its legs
for a spring night
pesky blue shirted boys
inkpots along broadway
hustle drag comedy to sightseers
praise the hunger in their eyes
praise the air laced with fear
of flesh policing darker flesh
of deportation
of the one-legged pigeon
shitting on your hair
of a razor beneath a tongue’s slick
and dead end
fear of the dead in their ghostly denim
of the sky’s dark & humid hymns
of love’s swift & aromatic fist
blessed be the fist
the tang of burnt coffee at midnight
the beggar’s corpse on the floor
of a port authority restroom
this island a capella by moonlight
the mock terror washed up on its shores
blessed be the corner pizzeria
peddling pig’s feet & chicharrón
blessed be the psychic reader’s
scarlet sundress
her vision of kiwis & apricots
blessed: a girl lifting fruits
from the trash
cleaning each with a found napkin
kissing & kissing it up


Amber Atiya, a queer poet and native Brooklynite, has performed at the Nuyorican Poets Café, Theater for the New City, Westbeth Center for the Arts, and many elsewheres. Her poems have been published in Tribes Magazine, Drunken Boat, and Coloring Book, an anthology of multicultural writers. She is a member of a women’s writing group, with whom she’s been writing for ten years and counting.


See the full list of 2012 Emerging Poets Fellows