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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 3, 2018.
About this Poem 

“Over the past few months, I’ve been reading Melville for the first time and writing nonfiction about my time in the Navy. My thinking began to encompass the nature of work, the body’s abilities and disabilities, and the choices we make about our lives. Gear adrift means something that is not stowed in its proper place, that could become a hazard under certain circumstances at sea. If I was trying for anything, I suppose it would be the comparison between that gear adrift and a person adrift, whether discarded or not belonging—but not even sure they want to belong. Disposed, then, has potential for a double meaning: either tossed away or inclined—as in an asserted feeling.”
—Khadijah Queen

Disposed

Gear adrift I say—a phrasal anchor in me
& here at the summit no one I know
knows what it means. I stay neat & ask
 
What did I imagine better before work
before that last time breaking
One Tuesday I volunteered & never again
 
The drumbeat softens & I still decline to
admit how cowardly & shipwrecked I feel
so many miles from the equator
 
How fast can I choose differently
a presence I pretend
In the darkest sweater I own I'm almost cold

Copyright © 2018 by Khadijah Queen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 3, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Khadijah Queen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 3, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Khadijah Queen

Khadijah Queen

Khadijah Queen is the author of I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (YesYes Books, 2017).

by this poet

poem
after Clare Rojas
(I have a diamond house
with men. I have pierced
men and diamond shoes.
I have shoed horses and
a tilted head. I have a tilted
cart and a flowered scarf.
I have a gray dress and a
hell of a guitar. I play the
guitar and the jukebox jack-
in-the-box gutted brown
poem

Bamboo shoots on my grandmother's side path
grow denser every year they’re harvested for nuisance.
Breezes peel blush and white petals from her magnolia,
lacing unruly roots in the spring grass. For nine decades
she has seen every season stretch out of shape, this past
Connecticut winter

poem

so well it’s like you’re my real
lover, the reason I can’t stay
attached to anyone, making a heaven
out of beginning again & you
knock at my voice
as if I could speak you back in
as mine & I had time enough to learn
the secret of cruelty
as if that made it lose

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