I’m Always So Serious

which is to say in the winters I dream
of owning a multi-floored mansion
in New Orleans. Specifically one
on St. Charles Ave with a wrap around
porch and white pillars that would only
see the likes of me if I were
the maid, the midwife, the family
mechanic, Archie Manning,
the maintenance worker
or the mailman trusted
enough to know the gate’s nine
digit passcode and leave
the mail resting on the family’s
rain-weathered mahogany
rocking chair. In this particular
dream, I’m the mailman. The marigolds’
red tongues lick the legs
of the chair as I leave
the mail on one of its non-refurbished,
lead-painted arms. Their green
necks rapidly invade the eggshell
painted porch like any poor
soldier in need
of his salt. I rip one
from the ground for the sake
of killing, look it in its yellow
center, a vibrant blister,
before I rub it between
my knuckles and render it
a freshly ground thing.
Looking back, this poem
was only supposed to
be about my sinuses,
how even in my dreams,
I sneeze at the sight
of untended weeds, flowers
whose mouths unfold
under the brazen light
of the sun. The nightmare
is supposed to be my
allergies, how they only allow
me to love what blooms
from a distance, but in every
dream those vibrant marigolds
keep growing, their vines
are needle-thin
tumors that keep stretching
crazily onto the porch,
keep making the rocking chair
nervous at its own home.
When I see that rocking chair,
I see blood. It rocks like a heart-
beat running from whatever
is inside that mansion,
or behind it with a whip.

Karisma Price is a Cave Canem Fellow and an MFA candidate in poetry at New York University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative Magazine, Four Way Review, The Boiler and Cotton Xenomorph. Originally from New Orleans, LA, Karisma lives in New York City, and along with Kwame Opoku-Duku III, she is a founding member of the Unbnd Collective.