American Girl Moves
from Chicago to Soda City, SC
She drives 900
daylight miles from the predictable city
of alleys she knows. A city with ever present
traffic patter, glistering light, buildings rife with escape
routes. American girl drives south, along the lake, south,
past Kenwood, the Illiana Interchange, through
Ohio, through Kentucky. She thinks
of Sandra Bland who turned her blinker
on or didn’t and ended up alone in a cell, dead with a pack
of white men around her cage. American girl drives
a Uhaul across the country, in which she is black
before American, black before woman. She brings
a friend, a lover, who is white and black,
who is City of Big Shoulders, who is bold and black
and lesbian and Jewish and American and a princess.
Our American girls laugh, listen for sirens, sit susceptible
to her whiteness, her blackness and the men in the motel
rooms surrounding the room they share. Our American
girls gather around cigarettes, retreat
from the man on the bench outside who assures I’m not a cop.
Asks, Which room are you in?
Room 237 in the Fort Jackson Days Inn
prime spot for porn making room smells
like 30 years of cigarette smoke. Sex is soothing
and they want to, so our girls fuck in their room
knowing they might be heard and hurt.
Black bodies, spines torn, contorted into art pieces,
massacred in AME churches, flung like dolls at pool parties,
slung across classrooms, finger raped by police
officers, forced to fellate police officers
accused and accused and accused and accused.
American girl fears for her life. Her shirt
and bra over her head. Her hand on her thigh.
Her neck muscles tense. Her mouth full,
but her arms won’t hold her like they want to.
Our American girls—targets on radar, small lights blinking:
I’m here, I’m here, even as the mouth calls joy
in the boxing match and wrestle in fisting and release.