Poem 256 ± February 15, 2016

Yolanda Wisher
Dear John Letter to America

America, you beautiful suitor of indigenous bitches. I am a slave ship and you are a skyscraper. I keep the bottom line, you got the upper hand. We try to make love but there’s a war of flesh and steel going on.

Used to woo me with roses carved from melons, douches of Colt 45 and holy water, ivory pearls that turned out to be my grandpa’s wisdom teeth. I must’ve been crazy to keep setting your place at the welcome table, thinking this or that would be the night that you eat from my fork of blues. Said you loved me but you just loved my doggy style. You ejaculated rotted dreams, rusted passion across my chest. In the morning, you left my thighs like crackbrained riverbeds, left the scent of your hunger in my hair.

Ashamed to say I fell in love with you, America. With your swagger and your big talk. Nobody told me your heart was the world’s first digital camera, beating humanity into bloody squares. Nobody told me how you cut mugs from the get-go, the army of hookers you ran with before you lay in my bed, the arsenal of whips and ropes in your closet for the cowboy flicks you produced, directed, and starred in every century.

You keep telling me how you different now, you saved. But you keep making purple moon’s rise on my eyes. Say you sorry but you still find a way to 302 me into oblivion. Build me a dollhouse of steel cages so all my flowers can grow separate and evil. Laugh like a tree grinder when you read my suicide letters. From my soul you make a sharecropper, a little black box.

America, I am the slave ship and do you are the skyscraper. I keep the bottom line, Baby, you got the upper hand. We makin love and there’s a war of flesh and steel goin on. America, you the most sublime, transcendental fornicator. You keep gettin caught with your dick out, tryin to drill a hole in the world. Sometimes I wanna fuck you like there is a tomorrow and a tomorrow and a tomorrow. Sometimes I wanna take your hand, take you to the little markets where the people sell their spirits in small pieces, to the alleyways the hustlers have made soft with hip talk. Walk hand-in-hand along a beach unbought and unbridled, and ride you till you say my name and you change, change. You’d brand me with invisible kisses. I’d be just like those talk show mamas—forgiving. We’d meet every day at the intersection, the bridge, the phone booth, the hot dog stand, and you’d tell me your baby dreams, the ones dense and wet as first forest. Show m your dirty drawls and your secret birthmark. Maybe then, America, I might give myself to you.


Yolanda WisherYolanda Wisher is the author of Monk Eats an Afro (Hanging Loose Press, 2014) and the co-editor of Peace is a Haiku Song (City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, 2013). Her work has appeared in Fence, GOOD Magazine, Harriet: The Blog, MELUS, Ploughshares, The Sun Ra Mixtape Vol. 1, and in the anthologies Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (U. Michigan Press, 2006), edited by Toi Derricotte, Cornelius Eady, and Camille T. Dungy; Gravyland: Writing Beyond the Curriculum in the City of Brotherly Love (Syracuse University Press, 2010), edited by Stephen Parks; Lavanderia (Sunbelt Publications, 2009), edited by Donna J. Watson, Michelle Sierra, and Lucia Gbaya-Kanga; Stand Our Ground:Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander (FreedomSeed Press, 2013), edited by Ewuare X. Osayande; and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (University of Georgia Press, 2007), edited by Nikky Finney. As an English teacher at Germantown Friends School, Wisher founded and directed the Germantown Poetry Festival (2006-2010). She also served as the Director of Art Education for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (2010-2015). She lives in Philadelphia.

Reprinted from Monk Eats an Afro ©2015 by Yolanda Wisher, by permission of Hanging Loose Press.