HOW TO KILL A HOUSE CENTIPEDE BY SQUISHING IT BEHIND A PHOTO OF
MIRIAM MAKEBA WHILE CONTEMPLATING VARIOUS ITERATIONS OF RIGOR
MORTIS IN MY GENTRIFIED APARTMENT COMPLEX ON 750 MACDONOUGH
STREET BROOKLYN, NY 11233
it does appear to be a strain itself viral of some design even violent with symmetry each set of legs leading up to more sets of legs & I don’t know how to greet it how to kindly suggest it get the fuck out my house or lead me to where it multiplies are there a nest of these? a hive of these? what do these call each other when in a large amorphous congregation? do these fall in love & mate or mate & hatch? which is further from what I know? sometimes I can’t tell the human preference & yes, it is the farthest thing from a person though it could burrow in me if I allowed it or even if I didn’t allow it which makes it exactly like certain human qualities again burrow thru somewhere that requires synapse before a holler out can occur an ear canal for example a nostril for example a non-consenting passage you know the type conquered when I am too happy I catch a fever & have to lie down throw my arms into an unbearable position what we talk about when we talk about the shape we leave this world in & yes, I suppose I am that interested in the body defeated or the body striving to say something new about itself like the position saints die in neck craned arms crossed legs crossed how they don’t decompose & yes, part of me is ugly enough to want to be a saint which means I will never be a saint never die with all my limbs neatly drawn & I can’t say I’d be an amenable corpse or that you would know how to greet me, me & my two tattoos perhaps a 3rd before I’m burnt & thrown & yes, I hope to be burnt & thrown not for any spiritual reason unless claustrophobia is a spiritual reason I wake up screaming from dreams of waking up underground between Mississippi Ohio Montreal A Thumb, White & no, I can’t say I thought of anyone when I did it when I saw 4 antennae lead a long insect across the wall above my desk not the base of my wrist popping against a paper version of Miriam Makeba her grey hand on her grey pencil dress a woman who sang sometimes with her eyes closed & sometimes not & yes, it is this that I find least human to sing without your eyes open like sleeping next to someone you love it is a symmetry a faith a nest of this a hive of this an amorphous congregation of this so it is likely easy to kill if you can locate the source & yes, I thought when one of the antennae dropped the other left to twitch without an audible pattern stuck as a corpse to a woman who was often not allowed to leave or forced to stay very far from where she began I guess you call that exile which is something I do understand I thought a colonizer’s thought not “I’m sorry” or “I shouldn’t have killed it” but “if I don’t kill it now, how will I find it again?”
Aziza Barnes is blk & alive. Born in Los Angeles, she currently lives in Bedstuy, New York. Her first chapbook, me Aunt Jemima and the nailgun, was the first winner of the Exploding Pinecone Prize and published from Button Poetry. You can find her work in PANK, pluck!, Muzzle, Callaloo, Union Station, and other journals. She is a poetry & non-fiction editor at Kinfolks Quarterly, a Callaloo fellow and graduate from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is a member of The Dance Cartel & the divine fabrics collective. She loves a good suit & anything to do with Motown.