Excerpt from 'There Are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé'
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé
By Morgan Parker
TIN HOUSE BOOKS
All rights reserved.
The President Has Never Said the Word Black,
Another Another Autumn in New York,
Poem on Beyoncé's Birthday,
Beyoncé on the Line for Gaga,
We Don't Know When We Were Opened (Or, The Origin of the Universe),
My Vinyl Weighs a Ton,
Beyoncé is Sorry for What She Won't Feel,
These Are Dangerous Times, Man,
Rebirth of Slick,
Delicate and Jumpy,
Freaky Friday Starring Beyoncé and Lady Gaga,
13 Ways of Looking at a Black Girl,
The Book of Negroes,
The Gospel According to Her,
Black Woman With Chicken,
The Gospel of Jesus's Wife,
The President's Wife,
Welcome to the Jungle,
Beyoncé, Touring in Asia, Breaks Down in a White Tee,
What Beyoncé Won't Say on a Shrink's Couch,
Untitled While Listening to Drake,
Beyoncé in Third Person,
Heaven Be a Xanax,
Beyoncé Celebrates Black History Month,
Earth Wind & Fire Reunion Tour 2013,
It's Getting Hot In Here So Take Off All Your Clothes,
Take a Walk on the Wild Side,
The Book of Revelation,
Slouching Toward Beyoncé,
Let Me Handle My Business, Damn,
Beyoncé Prepares a Will,
Please Wait (Or, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé),
Funeral for the Black Dog,
ALL THEY WANT IS MY MONEY MY PUSSY MY BLOOD
I am free with the following conditions.
Give it up gimme gimme.
Okay so I'm Black in America right and I walk into a bar.
I drink a lot of wine and kiss a Black man on his beard.
I do whatever I want because I could die any minute.
I don't mean YOLO I mean they are hunting me.
I know my pussy is real good because they said so.
I say to my friend I am broke as a joke.
I am Starvin' Like Marvin Gaye.
I'm so hungry I could get it on.
There's far too many of me dying.
The present is not so different.
Everybody looks like everybody I worked with.
Everybody looks like everybody I've kissed.
Men champion men and animals.
Everybody thinks I'm going to die.
At the museum I tell the school group about Black art.
I tell them the word contemporary.
I have a nose ring I forget about.
I have a brother and he is also Black.
I am a little modern to the fault.
I say this painting is contemporary like you and me.
They ask me about slavery. They say Martin Luther King.
At school they learned that Black people happened.
The present is not so different.
I'm looking into their Black faces.
They do not understand that they exist.
I'm Black in America and I walk
into a bar and drink a lot of wine, kiss a white man on his beard.
There is no indictment.
I could die any minute of depression.
I just want to have sex most of the time.
I just want my student loans to disappear.
I just want to understand my savings account.
What is happening to my five dollar one cent.
I am free with the following conditions.
What is happening to my brother.
What if I do something wrong.
My blood is so hot and wet right now.
I know they want it.
I do everything right just incase.
I don't want to give away my money but here I am.
It's so stupid I have to say here I am.
They like to be on top.
I am being set up.
I am a tree and some fruits are good and some are bad.
The President Has Never Said the Word Black
To the extent that one begins
to wonder if he is broken.
It is not so difficult to open
teeth and brass taxes.
The president is all like
five on the bleep hand side.
The president be like
we lost a young boy today.
The pursuit of happiness
is guaranteed for all fellow Americans.
He is nobody special like us.
He says brothers and sisters.
What kind of bodies are moveable
and feasts. What color are visions.
When he opens his mouth
a chameleon is inside, starving.
I wish my pussy could live
in a different shape and get
some goddamn respect.
Should I thank you?
Business is booming
and I am not loved
the way I want to be.
I am an elastic
and shock, addictive
decoration. In the sunlight
hibiscus. They tell me
I look regal bearing fruit.
I am technically nothing
I will never be
Somewhere in my
memory, I was held
by a man who said
I deserved it.
Now I understand.
No one worries about me
because I am getting paid.
I am here to show you
who you are, to cradle
your large skulls
and remind you
you are perfect. Mother America,
unleash your sons.
Everything beautiful, you own.
Another Another Autumn in New York
When I drink anything
out of a martini glass
I feel untouched by
professional and sexual
rejection. I am a dreamer
with empty hands and
I like the chill.
I will not be attending the party
tonight, because I am
microwaving multiple Lean Cuisines
and watching Wife Swap,
which is designed to get back
at fathers, as westernized media
is often wont to do.
I don't know
when I got so punk rock
but when I catch
myself in the mirror I
feel stronger. So when
at five in the afternoon
something on my TV says
time is not on your side
I don't give any
shits at all. Instead I smoke
a joint like I'm
a teenager and eat a whole
box of cupcakes.
Stepping on leaves I get
Confuse the meanings
of castle and slum, exotic
and erotic. I bless
the dark, tuck
myself into a canyon
of steel. I breathe
and hope. I live somewhere
Poem on Beyoncé's Birthday
Drinking cough syrup from a glass shaped
like your body I wish was mine but as dark
As something in my mind telling me
I'm not woman enough for these days
Colored with reddish loathing
Which feels, to me, more significant than sun
My existence keeps going
Ripple in other people's mouths
Pools of privilege and worship
I want, I keep thinking
I am exclusively post-everything
Animals licking my chin, new leaves stretching
From a palm plant like a man's greedy arms
Today your open eyes are two fresh buds
Anything could be waiting.
The most beautiful hearse I have ever seen
is parked in front of my stoop
Perched hands folded for six to eight weeks
twinkling like a siren a new idea of love
Trees are planted but don't exist yet
They are leaning non-existent into us
A trough of hearts meets me in the anxious sun
I could rot here
Something like the holy spirit
pours you over bruised ice
There isn't anything more to say than holy
Beautiful men never looking upon me
I take music self-stirred and sleep
alone curve into the morning like an almond
My shoulder slush as romantics
You wash up on a barstool
smooth heartache black sand
Beyoncé On The Line for Gaga
Girl you know you ain't that busy.
Without meyou're just two ears
stuffed with glitter.
Spoken gunyour name
baby's first words when she enters
swag up covered in
gunmetal spandex, cigarettes for eyes.
Say my name, louder
come into these hips
and live. Let
platform heels tightrope curves,
make Jiggaman jealous.
He runs the streets
I pour into them, weave first
fierce nymph of Texas
holy in black.
You feel me? This booty
is smooth running water.
I shake too thick for love,
push records like dimes,
rep the hustle slick as legs.
I know you like that.
I carry the hood up in this bling.
Soft brown fingers
got rocks for days. Lips glossed opening
for a special purpose.
You say Tell 'em B
I open my legs, throw my shades on like,
Divas gettin money. Hard as the boys.
Give me all
your little monsters and I will burn them up.
Give me your hand
and I will let you back this up.
Tonight I make a name for you.
We Don't Know When We Were Opened (Or, The Origin of the Universe)
after Mickalene Thomas
A sip of liquor from a creek. Saturday syndicated
Good Times, bare legs, colors draped like
an afterthought. We bright enough to blind you.
Dear anyone, dear high heel metronome, white
noise, hush us shhhhh, hush us. We're artisanal
crafts, rare gems, bed of leafy bush you call
us superfood. Jeweled lips, we're rich
We're everyone. We have ideas and vaginas,
history and clothes and a mother. Portrait-ready
American Blues. Palm trees and back issues
of Jet, pink lotion, gin on ice, zebras, fig lipstick.
One day we learned to migrate. One day we studied
Mamma making her face. Bright new brown, scent of Nana
and cinnamon. Shadows of husbands and vineyards,
records curated to our allure, incense, unconcern.
Champagne is how the Xanax goes down, royal blue
reigning. We're begging anyone not to forget
we're turned on with control. We better homes and gardens.
We real grown. We garden of soiled panties.
We low hum of satisfaction. We is is is is is is is is
touch, touch, shine, a little taste. You're gonna
give us the love we need.
My Vinyl Weighs a Ton
Sit down shut up slip me out of my sleeve.
I have come from the grasses of California.
Twenty years of the dark I carry.
The sun bends its back over Struggle City.
It hits me first thing: I've never been cool.
I am driving with glass eyes and lead feet.
I jetpack into the heaviness alone.
My bare face hanging out all over the kitchen counter.
What's largest is the ego, half-animal growing near mint.
I'm a rare EP strutting into the brown morning.
T-shirts are a theme. The neighborhood watches.
Lawn chairs tumble into liquor stores alone.
The good old urban sprawl at half-volume.
It is literally just another day.
All my friends are changing religions and getting laid.
I have been too patient.
It's just one long slumber party in here. It seems impossible
that Mom will ever arrive, car running, to take me home.
Beyoncé is Sorry for What She Won't Feel
The Capital's so icy, I see my
perfect breath. It looks like a body
on its knees. Most days I strut
my figure on lock. A Nation
of Weaves assembles at my
Jimmy Choos, gazes into green light
and falls asleep. First Lady of desire,
I pant for our future. Like America
and wine, I am all legs. A sheepskin
bleached and dyed, left in the sun.
Dear Sunday you are a rash like
tresses falling to shoulders, pink
highlights humming the sky
like a tease. How do you feel
in moonrise, the stomach-growl
of life slowly closing? Do you wonder
about escape, the blank, quiet frontier?
I mouth Free and Home into a crowd
but they only hear gold extensions.
I listen for prophecies
from my daughter's sticky mouth.
While I pick her hair, she cries.
I say, Never give them
what they want, when they want it.
I'm hiding secrets and weapons in there: buttermilk
pancake cardboard, boxes of purple juice, a magic word
our Auntie Angela spoke into her fist & released into
hot black evening like gunpowder or a Kool, 40 yards of
cheap wax prints, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, a Zulu
folktale warning against hunters drunk on Polo shirts and
Jägermeister, blueprints for building ergonomically perfect
dancers & athletes, the chords to what would have been
Michael's next song, a mule stuffed with diamonds & gold,
Miss Holiday's vocal chords, the jokes Dave Chapelle's
been crafting off-the-grid, sex & brown liquor intended
for distribution at Sunday Schools in white suburbs, or in
other words exactly what a white glove might expect to
find taped to my leg & swallowed down my gullet & locked
in my trunk & fogging my dirty mind & glowing like
treasure in my autopsy
These Are Dangerous Times, Man
Do you know what I would do
with the glory of everyone?
I would set it on my tongue.
I've been meaning to sing this
against chamomile hissing
up from the grates.
Not because it is
dark but because of how
I interpret the rules.
While tree trunks
grow into their pleats,
I continue to respect
The world would crumble
without my unwavering
sacrifice. I try to write
a text message
all my feelings
but the emoticon hands
are all white.
White flowers in a river.
stuck in my teeth like a seed.
I think the phone is racist.
doesn't care about black people.
The phone is the nation
that loves the phone.
Otherwise my feelings are unable
to be expressed.
A white thumb pointed down.
I suck color
out of the night and then
your finger bones.
a beautiful collection
trembling on the floor.
I need to know
what it feels like to be softened.
Tender filet on a fresh
Small, warm body
in a field, un-itching.
Rebirth of Slick
& solar I'm a moodless seedling
on the day Jay Z was born
& Fred Hampton was killed
Watching TV and thinking "White people are crazy"
Watching YouTube and thinking "Kanye West
Looking in the mirror
Everything crazy is the best
It's what I learned from Aunties
& empty bottles after midnight
The birth of a bull shitter
in dark lipstick & big dreams
It's easy to be ravishing: don't think
I am feeling smooth and twirl my wrist as such
Flock to me I ain't scared
My bed is a cross between dancehall & fruit field
Everyone is on the list plus infinity
I was born this way: unsatisfied
My color is a bridge with no other side
In a second life my voice is a drum kit
Reigning over green hills like weather
I am king & anthem
I know how to relax
Charging in the darkroom
while you sleep I am touch and go
I flicker and get turned on
Exterior shell, interior disco
I like my liver steeled
as a gun, my wires
unbuttoned to you
The reason I was built
is to outlast some terribly
that is delivered
to the blood through kale
salad and pity and men
with straight-haired girlfriends
The future's a skirt of
expectation to mourn
This way, hard-cased
you can put your eyes on me
It's less about obedience than
silvery lipstick stains
It's mostly about machine tits
Artificially I'm interested
Virtually I'm drunk
The future's a girlish helmet
with circuits that need doctors
In the future our bodies can't
I dare you
Tell me apart from other girls
Nothing aches in here
It's a quiet, calculated shame
Delicate and Jumpy
Turns out I feel my body
more than I should. My eyes dart
like a small animal. I'm a museum
of necklines and cloudscapes, a heaven
diving into the wrong hard mountain.
Soon a beer-colored sky will sneak
up behind the fence. I toss my hair
to the street without permission.
A couple in matching peacoats smokes
electronic cigarettes across the platform.
I am a tiny robot like them
but there is no one to love my robo-heart.
On the last day of the year I enter
a scalding tub and think you away.
It is too cold and too quiet for me
to sign language the sky.
Right now six people are in outer space,
and you are growing smaller in my mind.
I just want to have a heart for this, to be
a shaved dog, begging at your heels.
Freaky Friday Starring Beyoncé and Lady Gaga
I'd miss my booty
in your butt
to reach back
and find history
borrowed not branded
would miss my glitz in your glam
my rhythm in your rock
you'd take me as a cold black cape
while I relax into your fishnets
the secret is
I'm a body for anyone
in you I light
which is me
slip a flower into our hair
listen to our body
yours and mine
its sniveling crawl
down the block its beat
and I in your short strut
take comfort in good
who'd want enter this
as heavy to touch
whose vogue so viewed
bodiced to despair
I'd smear black
lipstick on your thin lips
try to forget
I ever belonged in you
I'd see easier
and you would hold
my body upright
gut the throat
find out what comes up
I'm just a slab of something
Excerpted from There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker. Copyright © 2017 Morgan Parker. Excerpted by permission of TIN HOUSE BOOKS.
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