Jamaal May

MayI have been reading, Hum, Jamaal May’s intriguing book of poems, and finding what he does with language very inspiring. He’s a great performer, too, you can hear him recite on Youtube. I think this poem works best if you don’t try to make too much sense of it as it goes along; just take the images in as they come.

How to Disappear Completely

You are quarter ghost on your mother’s side.
Your heart is a flayed peach in a bone box.
Your hair comes away in clumps like cheap fabric wet.
A reflecting pool gathers around your altar
of plywood subflooring and split wooden slats.
You are a rag doll, prone, contort,
angle and arc. Rot. Here you are
a greening abdomen, slipping skin,
flesh fly, carrion beetles. Here
where bullets found shelter,
where scythes found their function, breath lost
its place on the page, where the page was torn
out of every book before the chapter’s close.
This is slippage, this is a shroud of neglect
pulled over the body, this
is your chance to escape.
x                                                Little wraith,
bend light around your skin until it colors you clear,
disappear like silica in a kiln, become
glass and glass beads, become
the staggered whir of an exhaust fan,
a presence only noticed
when gone. Become origami.
Find yourself smaller
than ever before. Become less. More
in some ways but less
in the way a famine is less.
We will forgive you for not being
satisfied with fitting in our hands
We will forgive you for dying to be
a bird diminutive enough
to fit in a mouth without being crushed.

Jamaal May

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