Saturday Nov 18

Patricia-Smith.jpg Patricia Smith is the author of five books of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, chronicling the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, included in the list of the Library Journal's Best Poetry Books of 2008, and one of NPR's top five books of 2008; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection, winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and About.com’s Best Poetry Book of 2006. She also authored the ground-breaking history Africans in America and the award-winning children’s book Janna and the Kings. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly and many other journals, and she has been performed around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Poets Stage in Stockholm, Rotterdam’s Poetry International, the Aran Islands International Poetry and Prose Festival, the Bahia Festival, the Schomburg Center and on tour in Germany, Austria and Holland. She is a Pushcart Prize winner and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. She is a professor at the City University of New York/College of Staten Island, and is on the faculty of both Cave Canem and the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine.
 ----------
 
AND THEY’RE GONE.
 Elmer Valentine (1923-2008) proprietor of the famed Whiskey-A-Go-Go and
"inventor" of the go-go girl
  
When they are sugar-smothered, swathed in glass, their eyes spark
like bundling fists and the patch of silence just north of their
batteried breasts sweats like an idling engine. All this before
the music begins. I craft a soundtrack, all re-looped thud, wails,
and mechanized stutter, designed to charm hips toward commerce.
Flip a switch, and their abiding bones accept chaos. They gallop,
flinging fringe, stiff bouffants whipping loose and limp, flailing
arms slicing through the thick humidity of bondage. My girls
are such urgent gifts, recklessly glittered, whistling pant through
pinched noses, snorting shamelessly with the boogie unbridled.
I am the artist of them in the air. Watch my offerings twirl above
the din on tenuous hooks--closest to heaven, but hotter than hell.
 
 

FIRST BRA
For Mikaila
 
 Your boobies bloom, your hips prepare to sway.
You twirl, sleek-skinned in mirrors, so amazed.
This stunning turn will change the way you play.
 
Your arms still flail, your gangly limbs still splay
like stars. But woman is the child I raise.
Your boobies bloom, your hips prepare to sway.
 
Sweet dervish, tumbler, I watch as you stray
through childhood’s chaos, life as swirl and haze
and stunning turns. Don’t change the way you play.
 
Safe in my hugs, just listen while I say
what mothers say: I dread the looming days,
your boobies’ bloom, your hips. Prepare to sway
 
back to this, toward me, toward gleeful days
of hipless Barbie dolls, of girlish craze--
no stunning turns to change the way you play.
 
With heart squeezed shut, I warn you of the way
young boys will stumble dizzied toward your blaze.
Your boobies bloom, your hips prepare to sway.
This stunning turn will change the way you play.