Latorial D. W. Faison and Ali Liebegott
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Latorial D. W. Faison
Poet, author, educator, and military spouse, Latorial D. W. Faison, was born and raised in rural Southampton County, Virginia. She studied English Literature at the University of Virginia and completed graduate studies at VA TECH. Faison is the author of I Am Woman, flesh, Love Poems, Immaculate Perceptions, Secrets of My Soul, 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History (Volumes 1-3), The Marriage Bed, and children’s book Kendall’s Golf Lesson. Faison’s poetry has appeared in Deep South Magazine, Obsidian, Blackberry Magazine, About Place Journal, Southern Women’s Review, Kalyani Magazine, Mandala Journal, Chickenbones, The Chattahoochee Review, Electronic Corpse: poems from a digital salon, and elsewhere. Faison currently resides in Woodbridge, Virginia with her husband and sons. While Faison has presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, her official website is www.latorialfaison.com.
The following work is Copyright © 2016, and owned by Latorial D. W. Faison and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
This twisting of esophageal matters
this forceful overseeing of lambs
this coat of unnecessary colors,
this abandonment of green pastures
this anatomy of chaos,
this politics of a Judas kiss
this second death without a second coming
his temple money-changers have built anew.
A Haiku: America c. 2016
There’s so much hell here
Black tears, Black lives, Black matters
White falling from sky
Ali Liebegott has published three books: The Beautifully Worthless, The IHOP Papers, and Cha-Ching! She is the recipient of two Lambda Literary Awards and a Ferro-Grumley Award. She has read and performed her work throughout the United States and Canada with the legendary queer literary tour Sister Spit. In collaboration with Michelle Tea and Elizabeth Pickens she created The RADAR LAB, a free queer writer’s retreat from 2009-2013. in 2010 she took a train trip across America to interview poets for a project called The Heart has many Doors–. She currently lives in Los Angeles and writes for the Emmy Award-winning show Transparent.
The following work is Copyright © 2016, and owned by Ali Liebegott and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
After Richard Avedon’s Show at the SF MOMA
or Tell the Donor Family a Little Bit About Yourself
A few weeks after my third knee surgery
I found a pamphlet and preaddressed envelope
with suggestions on how to thank the donor family
for my cadaver graft if I chose to.
I’d forgotten a piece of someone dead was inside me.
Tell the donor family a little bit about yourself,
the pamphlet instructed.
I never considered telling them the truth.
Since youth I’ve practiced evaporating
and now it’s routine like a magic trick
or second language I slip in and out of.
I put my life in a flour sifter and banged it twice
into the kitchen counter to try and write my letter.
Extracted, a single fact
from at least ten lives ago:
I played soccer.
I left out that I was queer and a poet
and a forty-year-old depressed cashier
and deliberated before I checked the box
that said YES
I wouldn’t mind if the donor family
contacted me on receipt of my letter.
Loss makes people crazy.
What if they stalk me
missing their loved one,
I thought, crazily?
Until I know if the operation was successful
the only good to come out of it
is a temporary disabled placard that lets me
park for free in front of the SF MOMA.
It’s our anniversary but I wander away from you.
I like to think in museums,
feel myself changed by the pieces before me.
I start writing a poem with the line
What can I do with my small life but offer it to you?
You’re across the room looking into Malcolm X’s eyes.
The only portrait of Avedon’s wife
is crammed in a corner. I try to study
her face but my eyes keep returning
to her thin, gold wedding band.
After the museum can we limp to a pawn shop
and I’ll buy you a ring like hers?
You don’t give a shit about jewelry
that tells the world one person owns another.
I wander into the American Midwest Room
and stare at a portrait of a woman with heavy eyelids
and deep lines across her forehead.
It’s the room of people who’ve seen shit—
unrecognizable names and titles:
drifter, carny, unemployed field hand, rattlesnake skinner.
No one’s smiling, especially the drifter.
Disappointment changes a face.
The eyes relax into a hostile glare,
the hitchhiker’s lips—
pursed into a permanent fuck you.
Avedon was a hunter crouched in a tree
ready to snap up disgust and despair, I think.
Then I learn he had a makeup man
smearing dust across the miner’s cheek.
There’s no Janis Joplin or Carson McCullers
in the American Midwest Room—
no Beckett grimacing through a wall of snowflakes.
I find you in front of Warhol after he’d been shot,
faceless with a black turtleneck and shiny leather jacket.
Some people are so famous you know them from their torsos.
I study the winding road of puckered scars
on Warhol’s chest as I do my heel lifts.
Up on my toes and then down again,
the cadaver pieces help to build muscles
around the knee that’s been shitty for twenty five years.
The surgeon called my bad leg my chicken leg
and it made me love him.
I try to take in Warhol’s Factory shot
through the cloud of inane chatter about Candy Darling.
In the room the idiots come and go talking of Warhol’s transsexual.
In the last room, portraits taken in the final year of Avedon’s life:
Bjork, and then a triptych of self-portraits.
Avedon looks everywhere but the camera.
I can’t tell if he knows his own death is near.
I’m looking at his body for signs of it packing its bags.
His pants are dirty, like he’s spilled oatmeal on them.
And that’s how we leave this world I guess–
looking down with some kind of food spilled on our pants.