the city of my desire

[tweetmeme source= ‘yourtwittername’ only_single=false]reposted from brownstargirl.org, with permission

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the city of my desire
by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
11/19/2010

-for critical resistance, and after amir rabiyah and li young lee

in the city of my desire
we own this house. or we don’t own it,
but I’ve lived here for forty years now.
we made additions. fixed the hole in the roof. had time, stories and bread.
I lived to be an old woman, still hot
nobody owns anything
but I had time to put down roots
and just live here.
just
live:
We
just
live here.
There is no panic attack every two weeks:
love shot!/ millions of dollars going to something terrible!/a bad sentence/
a youtube video of streets bleeding/facebook fight over tactics
all now unsurprising.
no one is evicted
by gun or signature on paper
no one is taken away from us
by someone who despises us
In the city of my imagination,
I get to be surprised
I get to not know
how the story ends

In the city of my desire
nothing is perfect. oceans rose
people died. people we loved and needed,
they died. not how we wanted them to.
perhaps the water stopped three blocks from my house
because we made sea dikes and magic
and I jog by the oil scented salt water every morning.
or I didn’t make it and I am a ghost speaking to my grandchild
who is living in toxic water like the sharks by the Farallon islands
still diving and grinning next to cold war nukes dropped thirty years ago;
I look at her mutated, beautiful, persistent smile.

In the city of my desire
my diaspora settles like a nervous stomach after a ginger beer
I have family all over the world
in the best tradition of my people,
and I can see them whenever I want
we live wherever we want
and back home is a place we want to live
once, my only home was the runway
now it is one home,
but radiation never bombards my body naked
so folks brown or browner than me can laugh
as roots stretch rhizome
forward and back
They are allowed to grow
to flourish
and something new comes
beyond the breaking open of empire
and the IMF bloody wound crust

the city of my desire
is my body
I spent so long learning to love this crip body
altered by trauma capitalism bled into my mother’s stem cells
but things happened:
my parents before dying are accountable for my childhood
old carpet soaked rust belt toxins out of soil
I got to rest as long as I needed
so did everyone else
whose bodies fell apart in the last days of desire
and I limp and jog towards the justice of healing,
I and we the someones
who didn’t die.

In the city I walk daily
community accountability is a fucking mess
we all know that
all our hearts a fucking mess
we know that
we had forty years
to try and learn compassion
finally
as we the last generation earn our grey hair and bad teeth
to learn words simple on a page flying messy into blood and meat
flying like rock doves back home to words

The city in which I love you
is tricky. complicated.
broken before we breathe it.
all we have. our own genius,
two or three things I know for sure, how genius we are raising $5,000 at a house party
how tragic the inside of heart set on fire
it’s like arguing over monogamy versus polyamory-
no matter how much I get irritated and compose brilliant Scorpio emails
lambasting a lover’s dumb ass when they fuck up, I know I can’t get married.
All I have

is the task of figuring it out.

the city where I adore you
is only this: love storm. broken toxins.
halfassed brilliant solution. oya wind. unknown child.
my feverish tremmoring body who has time to lie on a couch and write this best poem
of cages crumbled sea walls holding
the inside of our hearts writing the urban planning
drawing the maps crooked bleeding ink
of the city we breathe toward cherished
buoyant dream I reach for
with you, kindred
in this city where we live and desire, now
body brown filled with broken gratitude
breaking bread open breath

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a Worcester raised, Toronto matured, Oakland-based queer Sri Lankan writer, performer and teacher. She is the 2009-10 Artist in Residence and part-time professor at UC Berkeley’s June Jordan’s Poetry for the People and the co-founder and co-artistic director of Mangos With Chili, North America’s only touring cabaret of queer and trans people of color performing artists.   The poem, “the city of my desire,” is from her second book of poetry in progress, Love Cake.  Learn more about Leah at brownstargirl.org.

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