“Me & My Skin’s Smoldering” — Read Three New Poems from Randall James Tyrone
POETRY: Three by Randall James Tyrone
This is a body: Hollowing Points
There are rules you learn in taking a charge:
ankles’ roots planted,
forcing your turnover, scrap if you’re losing,
get the fade
if you can’t get the W. I got a jumper;
off a heel, turn a two to a three,
shot into a clouding drone sky with hope falling short.
“Brick!” He and his car know
the importance of being loud. Who are you
to love me in a swish? Walking over,
“Fucc up bench warmer” &who are you
for me to be a “Fuck boy!” in a miss.
Taking L’s has taught me torture —
“On Blood, you dead” —
then how to feel.
pulling, from under the passenger seat.
I can’t react. I’ll die, fuck it,
or my brother, fuck,
or those witnesses, waiting in sight.
There’s a bang
we know. An empty police car
is down the street; a hologram’s prying
does not help me.
My brother, already gone
for his duffle bag, has taught me how
a pistol can split your face
with that niggas blood ricocheting
off that bullet
& his sprinkles needle my pores,
my palm. I feel it before I can describe it;
cranberry custard mess. All I see
is bleeding. Why is my right lid too sticky
to open? My eye twitching, adhered;
I try washing the pomegranate out.
I occupy hours trying, splashing
saline city sanitation tap water
until the hot couldn’t maintain.
I tried weeping. My eye twitches
like a body flailing, throwing tantrum,
desperate to convince breath to stay in,
twitching like an eye lash that can’t be
blinked out, from the past.
All I see is bleeding. Why?
I should know. Why? Big brother,
feature-less, “I love you.” —
Nails as claws; scratch out —
“I had to erase ‘em.” I can’t un-see him. —
timed memories, darker & harder; —
“be or be done.” I leak blood. —
a pencil without eraser is not a pen; —
“Forget it, it never happened.” —
fix your nature, —
What I saw. “Never happened.” —
you can’t erase,
only blight out.
This is A Spirit Melting Its Container: The Last Degree
The mattress is on fire.
No forgotten cigarette to blame;
only me & my skin’s
smoldering. My eyes are replaced
with the image of Vi & she’s missing
the top enclosure of a skull.
When anything’s collapsed far enough
it gets hard to tell what’s breaking in or out.
Brain matter is painted light,
the coroner writes passages
& none of that answers my question
in a way I understand. The wall’s
deconstructing like it was built to do so.
The fever’s cured me;
no longer drowning
in mucus vapors. I can’t find
the toilet’s water mouth.
I’m throwing up the yellow vomit
& it’s scalding my molars.
If I reach out I’ll melt
that flush knob. If there is a river,
I’ll be sunk by my fat anchoring sins.
The me: pierced by the bullet through her
hardening into harpoons
sloshing between the liquefying ribs,
skin receding back in pores. I am
leaking pus like flowing milk
from a cracking pot promised to me
in this land. No, it is loose calcium
& I see it falling out of me
like leaves looking down at their tapped tree
& I’ll see it fevered, flashing out
my holes like a light house.
black flames take the body;
the light remains,
the light is all that remains.
That Was A Ghost Wearing A Dead Guy: If you’re just walking in and see the window, it’s hard to tell if that’s opportunity climbing in or out
The door behind us never opens. We occupy
a chair. The room feels like paint chips
cracking at the back of our throat.
The roof like a Coffin lid with hang nails
perching like bats from a ceiling,
try to scratch your way out, dripping mauve
acrylic. A ritual’s monster passes us to hang
behind the desk. I don’t know
what I’m interviewing for,
I don’t care what you have me do, I need a job.
I don’t know — “You must know
me. Who I am?” I don’t.
“I am the gallant mountain,
swallowing callous people.
Tighten the ropes,
it will only make sense after you fall.
Flamboyant heavy hand Hari Kari —
You aren’t married?”
What? “Why haven’t you married her?”
She has…for a while we’ve —
“Go home, do that”. That won’t help.
“Doesn’t matter, do it. Does she know?”
About the job? “No,
how you’re different inside
from out; of course the job,
& of course the other
too.” No…no. How could she?
“Take care of yourself,
or you’ll rot before your first day
at the Hearse Corporation.”
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Randall James Tyrone, exemplar of Black Excellence, he’s a 2015 Tin House Scholar and a Bentley-Buckman Poetry Fellow who’s presented on Race and Writing at both AWP and the Montana book festival. He’s very excited for you.