Five Poems – Angelique Palmer


On the Mysteries of Cotton Candy

Dear Person I Would Like to Remain Friends With:

I was wrong.

There’s a cotton candy machine in the back of my throat. It is all sugar and cloud. I like sugar. 
Not everyone does.

A man touched my hips two weeks ago, rather incidentally, and reminded me I had hips. 
And skin. 
And that I like to be touched. 
When I met him in the daylight, his smile went flat. 
I am so tired of being after midnight hips. I didn’t feel like that with you. 
Maybe because it is always sunshine, never daylight. 
Maybe I got confused.

Your default avatar in my phone is a picture of you smiling so hard, you warm my face. 
I been smiling, because you been smiling, a lot.

I thought you were playing. I thought we were playing. 
I thought I felt you yank my ponytail. It is my tradition to then give chase, but never catch. 
Always get caught, don’t act like that’s what I wanted all along. 
It is a hard habit to break.

I have slick wrists and good technique. I can spin pink grains of hope into a puffy fantasy so 
expertly, in nothing flat. I think, “Look at what I’ve done! Even I want a bite!” 
I expected you to bite. 
Not everyone does. 

I have mood swings. I don’t slide into My Dark as much anymore as I: 
                                                             use feet for brakes,
                                                          pull myself to stand,
                                                             walk back up the 
But My Dark figured out my fake-out. Now, I flip quicker than a trick wrist. I am sure the 
moods could be controlled by the medication I don’t want prescribed to me. Little pink pills 
that won’t let me feel.

When I valley, I don’t want anyone near that brand of stuck. 
What if I got some of it on them?

Have you ever seen what happens to cotton candy when it gets caught in the rain?

I have been telling every single one of my friends, so I wouldn’t say it to you first. 
Better to mask face than have to save it.

You are a good person. 

You write full-speed baseball bats to my chest.
Your heart, a beautiful landscape: all peaks 
and valleys, weather and carnival too.

You have a smile that draws the giggle out of this self-centered, kind, gentle and usually 
hot-mess of a woman; you crush my capital I’s into lowercase grains of sugar, and make 
me spin.

I said I would stop, and I am still thinking about you. 
Turns out, I’m not a very good “friend” at all.

I miss you.

After Midnight Hips.

Tallahassee, 1998

Making a Mother Sauce in your kitchen: 
It is Saturday afternoon, 
tomatoes and heat, we are chopping them up.
We are sweetening the boil with
 cut basil, dry 
parsley, white sugar.
 I rinse off a wooden 
spoon. We get giddy about 
something you said. I 
scrape the sides and bottom. We wash
the butcher board more tickled than most.
I add the sweated
sweet onion. You are near the sink.
I add a big pinch of the spicy mix.
You are near my neck.
I add more tomatoes.
You lean against me, chest to my back
chin on my shoulder
zipper on my ass, tighter.

The kitchen is the smallest it has been all day.

Little pops of red-orange
 play pointillism on the 
counter and against the back 
splash. And I want to…
throw my color and salt to 
jazz against your tongue. But will 
everything burn just so you 

                                                             can get a taste?

On Listening to Meshell Ndegeocello in the Workplace

Make sure you are alone.
That there is no rainstorm.
That there are no slow songs— only up tempo;
that there is no pulse in her bass notes
              that mimics the pulse in your bass notes.
That you are quiet with your secrets.
Make sure 
you are 

That you don’t know her moan,
don’t identify with her moan.
don’t wish you 
her moan.
Don’t moan.
That you swallow your sexuality

Make sure you don’t begin to wish;
                that the corners of your eyes can catch 
	        your abandoned wishes.	
That the shift in your panties can cover 
                the fickle of emotion; that you 
                don’t touch your skin in that way
                that gives you away.

Make sure you are not actively thinking!

That you don’t look for hidden meaning, 
where there is none, or think about the one 
you cannot touch!
That you don’t regret in pattern
That you can hope,
when you hope
someday you’ll hope
you are 

(after the last scene of Medicine for the Melancholy)

This is what it’s like when the color 
returns: broken promises, bad
lighting. The couchbed sucking
your face, cheek first into a yellow
hickey. And she always runs, 
a teared-up eye shedding its burn.
She will always run.

Once the body unlearns shock, 
trust becomes a 
theme park 
The rubble of it.
The tumble dust.
Lilting voice in a bicycle spoke-
she will always run. 
Look at it.

Don’t ever look away.

The Night My Lover Accused Me of Seducing His Friend, My Rapist

You think you’ve got the whole damned glass.

The corn-husk broom pushing the shards - 
giant and plenty -
into a planet, center of the floor
The care and contemplation that goes into 
the removal process:
whisp away, the discordant clink, the dustpan line 
thinner, and thinner the next time. 
The inspection of the work - meticulous.
The evaluation: immaculate. 

Had to get every piece of the broken all swept up.

Until that Saturday morning, weeks later.
That slithery pointed smart aleck slits a bright 
yelp into the sleepy air.
Pink center of foot, bleeding 
more than it should, 
profusely, sobbing a crimson ilk to limp on. More 
until it is a pattern: foot print, tile floor
foot print, tile floor. Someone is
going to have to 
this up 

Eight years away 
from the tile floor in Miami
is a bus stop in Virginia, 
an almost familiar face,
a pair of black stockings ruined with runs, 
soaked through, and a shoe
of blood.

About Angelique Palmer

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