Power Bottom

In church

we said Satan, get thee behind

and I always laughed. A demon child

with a twisted mouth,

at supper time I refused meat

to suck on bones. In the alley

behind the house what grew besides

berries I was told not to touch? I licked

the blood at the root. A bitter crop,

I came screaming—never tell me

to be quiet again. I know what life

the wind sucks, but what hits harder

than a hungry hand scorn by

a gallant South? I want it to try me.

Trust me, you’ve never felt a mouth

this sweet. This thorny. They said,

Somebody put sugar in his tank,

I thought myself an army.

Commander, when I tell you to

fuck me, I don’t mean

for your tree to drop in a spirit-filled

chamber of burning flesh.

I mean grow a thicker root. I mean

to say: crow, pluck me. Too much

sweetness can kill you and this

plantation can never be too used.

In the end I will have you

hung up, trapped in my Southern breeze.




Malcolm Tariq is a Cave Canem fellow from Savannah, Georgia. A graduate of Emory University, he is currently a PhD candidate in English at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Red Truck Review, CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art and Action, Vinyl, HEArt Online, Nepantla, and Winter Tangerine. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia [where he stay black].