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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 11, 2018.
About this Poem 

“This piece was inspired by being out on tour with Sister Spit, a revolving, long-running collective of queer writers. I was thinking about our interactions with one another, the community we found sharing our work together, and how even as this world tries to kill us, we persist—if not in body, then in spirit, in the words we give as offerings.”
—Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Things Haunt

California is a desert and I am a woman inside it.
The road ahead bends sideways and I lurch within myself. 
I’m full of ugly feelings, awful thoughts, bad dreams 
of doom, and so much love left unspoken. 

Is mercury in retrograde? someone asks. 
Someone answers, No, it’s something else 
like that though. Something else like that.
That should be my name.

When you ask me am I really a woman, a human being,
a coherent identity, I’ll say No, I’m something else 
like that though. 
 
A true citizen of planet earth closes their eyes 
and says what they are before the mirror. 
A good person gives and asks for nothing in return. 
I give and I ask for only one thing—
 
Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. Hear me. 
Hear me. Bear the weight of my voice and don’t forget—
things haunt. Things exist long after they are killed.

Copyright © 2018 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Joshua Jennifer Espnioza

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is the author of i’m alive / it hurts / i love it (Boost House, 2014).

by this poet

poem
This is like a life. This is lifelike.
I climb inside a mistake
and remake myself in the shape
of a better mistake—
a nice pair of glasses
without any lenses,
shoes that don’t quite fit,
a chest that always hurts.
There is a checklist of things
you need to do to be a person.
I don’t want to be a person
but there
poem

Like light but
in reverse we billow.

We turn a corner
and make the hills
disappear.

You rearrange
my parts until no
more hurting.

No more skin-sunk
nighttime fear.

No more blameless death.

My hair loses its atoms.
My body glows
in the dark.