Author Archives: Cortney Lamar Charleston

About Cortney Lamar Charleston

Cortney Lamar Charleston is a Cave Canem fellow and Pushcart Prize nominee living in Jersey City, NJ. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Eleven Eleven, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Iowa Review, The Journal, Pleiades, Rattle, Spillway, TriQuarterly and elsewhere.

I’m Pretty Sure It’s Not Called a “Race Card” Anymore

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Not that it was ever a real thing, just a stupid, superficial
critique, but that's in the past and we leave the past behind
until it’s repeated.

                              	       An interesting fact: German ancestry is 
              the most commonly held within the United States of America. 

It's 2016, and things are a-changing. All-American brands 
are speaking Spanish in their commercials. There are still 
Negroes in the White House that aren't buried in the walls:
seven years and running, seven years running, seven years.

               Something is happening here.

                                               	All this "Black Lives Matter"
barking: polls say that dog needs to be put down. Polls say
punch a protester in the face. Polls say go back to Mexico,
but you've actually never lived there. You've never actually
had an abortion, but you've survived a man's imperialistic
decision on more than one occasion, and may have to again,
and what then? 
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An American Perversion


for Alison Parker, Adam Ward and Vicki Gardner 
Deviant: because we, the people, fornicate on camera, casually, 
for the money, if not for the thrill of being seen as an animal,
tossing the belly's beast a bone. So, ask again how could we?
and I will ask how could we not? – that is, kill on camera, for 
the fee of fame, for thrill. In this new film, also a young blonde: 
easy smile, not at all hard to look at, the archetype you'd find
high-tailing it to Cali from her slow and small town, seemingly
destined for bright lights someday. When she opens her mouth, 
something does pull out – a sword of a sound, sharply pitched. 
The more mature woman standing next to her makes mirrored 
motions, which is a common ploy in these kinds of videos. We 
don't see the big guy behind the camera at all, but that being said, 
it's not his show. And it's not hers or hers, either. Not even his: 
loaded pistol soaked with heat – or hate – aimed straight at her 
back and her back and even his. No. See, this is our show. OUR 
SHOW – a favorite we watch over and over
                                                                          and over and over
                                                             and over and over
                                                and over and over
                                   and over and over
                      and over and over
         and over and over
and over and over, 
                                 because, at the end of the day, it gets us off 
the hook of becoming better; because, at least, we ourselves are not 
the ones throwing skin into such a dirty, violent game – we are only 
viewers, an audience that’s not quite sure what to do with our hands – 
what to touch and how (or who?), how to stop doing this (but why?).
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Three Poems – Cortney Lamar Charleston


“Hip-Hop Introspective #3”

Ninth grader, and I’m still very unsure if sex is 
the act or the idea. It’s pitch black in my bedroom,
aside from 2:00 AM blinking in red-digital spine
and BET Uncut on the TV screen. 

I have the volume on mute, but my stomach 
is audible, groaning with a new kind of empty, 
watching her mocha-colored skin oscillate 
at the thigh like hot coffee skimmed 
by the blowing of an eager thirst.

Video after video, every Saturday and next,
my head is in the thick of her, of women, of sex, 
maybe; the credit card swipes straight down 
her thong-line, and I think to myself: 

                           booty don’t lie, jo.  
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