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Nikki Wallschlaeger


                                For May Ayim (1960-1996)

The overseers are buried above ground in containers that won't incinerate, and the workers
dead from lung disease who made the stones to fit their bodies are stalked by the heavy wet
coughs of their bosses.

In the shaky global clay the coral reefs are dying from pneumonia. My grandfather packed
crates of blank tombstones at the granite quarry for a living and the sea being what it is speaks
of these connections. I know when I'm being haunted,

I know when I'm being asked. So we search together through the trenches of buried papers,
brown women shoveling, worried for the health of our backs. We are a bouquet of spines
pressed into the dirt floor gathered in strength for you, so you can rest here without loneliness.

Blues for A Bar So Low That It Became a Cage

                                "Damn the bar is low in pop culture" - Erykah Badu

I collect the fossils. You got 2 seconds to gather up your things.

The drop off point is diaspora. We got a lot of strange blues now,

feelin I want to thank someone but don't want to thank G.O.D.

Sprinkling around hybrid seeds. Didn't mean you Monsanto!

From ghetto to bougie to posh to untouchable. Shoes that hurt

in the evening after standing together as company underlings.

Walking on black & white eggshells. The turquoise trenchant

from that FEMA relief when the stigmata is as stable as $$$

I want to live to be a bodacious old lady in a lapis housedress

watering my geraniums. Got two babies lighter than my winter

skin so folks look when we go out sideway highway type away.

Drinking from the cerulean anthropocene. In the Driftless bush

by a love that is not America, sometimes I gotta bless myself

Nikki Wallschlaeger's work recently has been featured in P-Queue, The Enemy, The Brooklyn Rail, LIT & others. She is the author of the full-length collection Houses (Horseless Press 2015) as well as the graphic chapbook I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel from Bloof Books. You can reach her here at