The Laughing Barrel (Sonnets III, IV, VII, VIII)

DeeSoul Carson  

My granny in Oakland is watching Jeopardy.

It is Monday. My father may be visiting.

If he isn’t, then he has called. If he is, there,

my granny is fussing in the kitchen. She

is cleaning the catfish. She is fixin him a plate

he will pretend to refuse. She is fixin him a plate

she told my grandfather to fix himself. The greens

are still burning on the stove, which she will catch

when she turns to grab her drink. It is lemonade.

It is tart. It will remind her of Ma, her grandmother,

long gone. She will laugh about being shooed out

of the kitchen as a little girl. She will give the drink

a taste & grimace. She will smack her lips.

She will complain about the sugar she needs to add.

My granny say You know what thunder is? That’s God

taking a stroll ‘round creation to see all the good he made.

And lightning? That’s just to get a better look before he go.

A likely story. The way it’s storming, you’d think all

the world’s good is in Oakland. Maybe it is.

There’s a flood outside but a German chocolate cake

in the kitchen, so maybe we’ll be alright. My uncle

made it home tonight, so maybe there’s some good left

in God’s reserves. I’ll admit, some days I think it’s funny

we’ve put our faith in a deity already promised to end us.

I believe because when my mother prays, it works.

Because I’ve never known Granny to be a liar. My God

just like lightning. You’ll see him before you hear him.

By the time you hear him, he’ll be gone.

My homie fly as a baby bird.

Homie a whole nest of hungry mouths.

Homie caught a hot pepper in her beak

& spent a year hounding the heat

from her chest. Homie a whole-ass

serpahim now, Got too many eyes to count

Too many wings to see. Homie plagued

by a biblical kind of irony. Last I heard,

Homie heard a joke so good

she cocked her head back & screamed.

My homie so fly the wind beneath her wings

caught her up & tried to take her to glory.

You can still find her feathers where it happened.

You can still see her pecking where it hurts.

Some movement is a hindrance to survival: my brother’s quick step,

the pig’s eager hand. Some breath requires stillness – the steadying

of my sister’s pulse in the backseat of a pulled-over sedan.

A song telling us of what we’ve been, who we’ve fucked &

fucked up to be here. How things now rusted once shone

like silver, the heartline of my mother’s palm greased

with baby oil. Sometimes I hum to ensure I haven’t exhausted

of sound to displace. In my dreams, my father strums sand

to a standstill. There’s so much noise I want to nurture.

I want the cacophony of the post-church parking lot.

I want the soft tapping of rain on the apartment skylight.

I want the Living Single theme on repeat. I want to run

my fingers through the songs that outlast us.

I want them to slip unabated into the dark.

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