Black River God

by Henri Garrison Dessany 

Black river god
spilling across the floor,
I am
drowned hearted--
Today, I wished I was someone you liked.
Wish I was a bathtub mermaid.
Captive audience. Stockholm cinderblocks
making up these walls. Scraped my scales
for something less myth,
more up your alley, white boy.
more mortal
no shit I got a hollow feeling after that.

Water spots soaking through every wall,
bruised mosaic where he put his hands.
I want your hands.
I am thick-fingered
lock pick
cutting myself on my tools every time,
you are safe
Open sesame.
Open wolf-belly.
Gutted my vicious when I wasn't looking.
blackwater seeping through the earth
to claim something--anything.
You asked me what I wanted.
What got me haunted.
What attraction done gloomed over today.

this mushroom cloud plumes with its darkness,
swamp flowers,
shaking rosebuds
all waiting to be blossomed--by you.
see its red run.
see it run.
run. run nigga run
I done seen which way the river runs.
I don't know anything
but how to survive in its mud,
how to keep running from white people
to more white people,
Cinderblock weights,
darkwater pooling round darker bodies,
mother river's hands pulling me back home
to the deep wet earth that made a swamp-thing like me.
My spine curves like the riverbend,
like this coastline,
like the gnarled tree out back,
like the hanging ghosts
done married themselves to my vertebrae.

Tie a knot to the bedpost and
never have I felt more at home.
Don't cut it down yet,
at least it keeps me above the flood.
Tether together to survive the Carolina hurricane,
what coffins the sea-level spits back--
hold me. really
hold me. no fucking
hold me, like
it's gonna save something.
even if it's just yourself.

I was a river god before I was me.
I am glutoneous you know--
swollen on my own saltwater.
You are just a pebble-skipper.
You are just perfect.
I'm just a myth.

I'm just .


henri garrison-desany: little more than a complicated house plant, bladesmith of kitchen knives and burrs, moss reaching for the sun, a dead bird arranged just-so in a flower bed, I think I cried too long yesterday and I'm excited to do it all over again. I like to swallow the city's asphalt along with my cheerios. I still eat cheerios. I believe there's nothing kinder than the scent of caramelizing onions.