Written after a workshop run by Ahmunet Jessica Jordan at the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California.
the voice on the radio scratches its ear,
pulls a long sigh from a back pocket cluttered with coins,
tells its listeners the ocean is on fire.
i roll my eyes. my girlfriend and i
play this game where we breathe into each others’ mouths
until i feel dizzy. it’s always me.
i am olympic-swimmer wannabe,
crush my lungs in the catch of a concert crowd,
but i feel like i don’t have enough air
for her. i snare
my slack-jawed skin on the baby rough
of her thigh, and the voice on the radio
sneers a lullaby. “remember,
the ocean is on fire. swimming season
is over. go back to where
you came from.” my girlfriend is
a backseat deity, coils
her body cobra-expectant until there is enough room
for my bones to fall out of their sockets.
“don’t worry,” she says,
“we can still use the buddy system.”
she sweats a line down my tongue,
and i swallow, my
throat a sickly spasm for
all that sweet. the voice on the radio
snorts the dust off its shoes,
drowns in its saliva, starts
talking about the government.
my girlfriend and i
play this game where we inhale each other like flame,
like every smoky rock song ever
crooned into a willing microphone,
open as a wet cave. the voice on the radio
wakes up. unhinges its cavern. “don’t
hold your breath.”