I am almost convinced this morning by the volley
of verses on each frequency, roughnecks telling it
like they want it to be, intoning You bad, baby
you know you wanna be with me and who can resist prophecy?
Tough made pretty like pearl-handled switchblades,
their voices cut through airwaves, half-singing,
half-slinging pipeswinging and duress.
The ligature of bass and brash beckoning
might persuade anyone intent on believing
love is a hustler running game and lying tenderly.
Sex, a series of volatile incidents,
history of how we know we like it—slung
low and collective, wild for wild things.
My daughter adores the boy shaming and trilling:
Wonder if you’re bending over backward for someone else, doing things I taught you getting nasty for someone else?
But who should any listening girl be?
Not too devoted, just loose enough.
Never too black, too mouthy, too much.
What real thing does anyone want?
Who sings for the women I inherit?
Who hopes for a woman like me?
Spinning the dial, I wander
the netherworld of static cackling
until a beat that breaks my back each time
crosses the wire, hangs in the air like the men I’m carrying.
Added: Wednesday, July 5, 2017 / From "Starlight & Error" (Diode, 2017). Used with permission.
Remica Bingham-Risher, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, is a Cave Canem fellow and Affrilachian Poet. Among other journals, her work has been published in The Writer’s Chronicle, New Letters, Callaloo, and Essence. She is the author of Conversion (Lotus, 2006), winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award; What We Ask of Flesh (Etruscan, 2013), shortlisted for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; and Starlight & Error (Diode, 2017), winner of the Diode Editions Book Award. She is the Director of Quality Enhancement Plan Initiatives at Old Dominion University. She resides in Norfolk, VA with her husband and children.