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Aziza Barnes

Aziza Barnes

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.

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