09-01-2016

Venus Thrash

Constrained

Behind the Archipelago Hotel, 
a stray donkey gnaws frayed 
clothing draped on crude fences,

brays all night under a shower
of stars spilling across the sky 
spiting darkness. Rastas,

rent-poor, asleep in dhows 
beneath a floodlight named moon, 
dream a rising sun to wait.

Muslim men in lengthy kurtas 
in open sandals stroll the shore's 
shallow waters hand-in-hand.

Women in twos, in hot hijabs 
curse the sun, cradle bags 
of rice or lentils mistaken

for a baby far away. Boys, 
as big as ten, shamelessly 
nude, somersault from stone

columns into the mighty sea.
Little girls, unconstrained, 
in worn red dresses, footrace

shoeless, down narrow lanes, 
chaste flesh coarsened by creed, 
coated in the town's gray dust.

 

To The Fems

Who would love us
short haired, butch women, 
our eyes unpainted,

our lips unglossed 
but moist and ready, spiffy
in pin-stripe suits

& paisley ties, tough
in Timberland work boots,
balling in the latest

Air Jordans, our breasts 
pressed close to the chest, 
the curve of our hips

hidden in baggy jeans, 
our big-daddy strut copied 
from the men in our lives,

our muscled arms decorated 
in various women's names, 
packing plastic cocks

in crotches, punches in bars
smelling of patchouli 
or Egyptian musk

our serious hard stare
our easy tears, our brazen 
craving for juicy cootchie,

to flip-flop & be topped 
by you who would love us
butches, diesels, dykes,

doms, kings, studs?

 

Cycles

I was born last child of a first child. 
Only daughter of an angry woman
On an angry day. An angry time.

I wear my mother's anger 
as a badge, claim it for my own, 
become its crusader.

I am a woman's voice 
who's never been allowed to speak.

Now nothing can contain her silence.
My mother cannot forgive her mother.
I cannot forgive mine.

I nurse rage like a newborn baby.
Rock it. Cradle it. Love it. Hate it.
Like a mother's love, this will never end. 

 

-from The Fateful Apple, selected by Guest Editor Phillip B. Williams

BIO: Venus Thrash was a finalist in the 2012 Jean Feldman Poetry Prize and the 2009 Arktoi Poetry Prize. Her poetry has been published in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Beltway Quarterly, Torch, Gargoyle, Folio, and the Arkansas Review, and in the anthologies Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade, Haunted Voices, Haunting Places: An Anthology of Writers of the Old and New South, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC, and Spaces Between Us; An HIV/AIDS Anthology

She has appeared at Split This Rock, the Studio Museum in Harlem, The Schomburg Center for African American Research, Virginia Festival of the Book, and The Library of Congress.  Venus earned a Bachelor’s degree in Literature and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from American University and is a fellow of Cave Canem and Soul Mountain. Currently, she teaches fiction, poetry, and is a full-time mother. Venus is in the process of completing The Soul of a Man, a short story collection, and her second poetry manuscript entitled, Misanthrope.