20: red / by LaQuann Dawson

I died in September
cried myself to sleep and drown in a river of
is this what hell looks like?

sad       silent      haunting


it took me two months to swallow the river
(product of my sorrow)

I went home Thanksgiving a new man
and daddy asks
“why do you dress like a vampire?”

he’s on to me

the next twenty days I fantasized revenge
I read    
I practiced
I wrote:

“How to Swallow a Man After He’s Broken Your Heart”

I died in the process

I went home Christmas a dead man       full        
and daddy asks

“whose funeral you going to?”


I buried my body at the bottom of my stomach
killed the butterflies
swallowed a photograph of the self I were
planted flowers in my liver
and poured 40s atop my casket till my stomach                     

I tried to write a eulogy on the spot:

fantasy of revolution cause my nose
bleed     Abandonment cause my wrist
Empathy cause my heart
Ambition cause my nail

anxiety tell body to turn bread and water to
blood     my stool

red    my eyes
red     my hands
red     my knees

had I not seen so much I'd say my blood be

black as my wardrobe
black as me
black as my darkest day and
black as my daddy be

         it would be a lie     to say my blood not
red    as the letter on my chest
red    as the devil’s tongue down my grandmother’s spine
as     black boys out        
          of time

         do you believe in God?
         do they look    
    like you?
         are their hands
red    like yours?        and if Jesus be man
were his sin vibrant as yours?

daddy called on Easter and asks
“where are you?”


I dream of blood showers come
night and I rise to nightmare turned reality

a mouth full of iron
a stomach full of men
a heart full
of nothing

         in a room warm and comfortable as hell my body     pours
         as I watch what little love be disintegrate from today
evaporate into the          past
         present in no one's but mine

my heart broken     again
and my fatal thirst return