I’m Your First World Problem

-For Rachel Silveri 




I’m your first world problem.
I’m your benetton dream
Gone rotten.
Goodbye, rhythm nation,
Sayonora, ms. jackson—
I’m quite nasty on my own.
I’m under bridges burning cash
In aquanet bangs and riding pants.
I owe the pleasure of this dream
To your charitable vaccines,
To send this kid to summer camp
So she’ll flow
Like viva-la-lohan
Like a subprime loan— 
My jewish father sells guns at wal-mart,
hile my mexican mama spins your kids
In her 1099 part-time
50 hours of grammar.
My anglo teachers still mark me
Absent on rosh hashannah.
They slapped for spanish.
I was paddled for every pro-drop
And null-subject—
See? Ghetto has grammar, I’d have said,
If I’d gone pre-med or worked the billboard
In toscani lens. Instead of greying mama’s hair
At the ends and allan bloom
And harold too, great books, father,
And perhaps spelling bee cred. 

              For in the halls of great men I trespass
With elocution, with continental
Accent. I snuck in 
With nautical sweaters
And british spelling and bludgeoned
Every headmaster.
So while my parents are spawning guns
And grammar I govern
Every guvnor:
Sometimes in tights from barney’s warehouse
Sale I aeroplane in sombre colors
Across melville and hemmingway.
Great anglos known to whale and sea.
I scream I scream
Then I set sail
To a beautiful woman.
She will become the hall.
To her only I’ll confess at twenty I had no money
And walked into saks in lifted joyce leslie
And I— was treated well.
I have the face of a young executioner.
I am the communal dressing room
Where girls wear nothing underneath,
Where in salons you say
You feel so empty. 






Blood Sport


“Fine-ass, I’m half a stage away
From being the bait in the game,
While you still dog-fighting-fine-ass.
                          I mean the ransom
After all the limbs mailed— 
Still a fine ass figure.”
I never know how to thank him.
His arms bear the names of many women.
Some come to visit. I try to guess
Georgia Jamaica Madison Dakota.
Once a week I join him in a circle
And pretend
The drip feed will put us back together.
And sometimes I pretend
I’m guest-starring
As a Middle Eastern assassin
Alexandria or Yaffa (for emphasis)
And this is poison
To make us leak
Secrets. But I’d probably
Forget my lines and count
Down to the chill in my spine.
I never know what to say anyway
When he says “fine-ass I never went anywhere
So I got choosey
With all the colors of the rainbow.
Petra, ask her what she’s in for.
Fine-ass never talks to me.”

But Petra is reading him tomorrow’s odds
And sucking his skin
Where yet another woman and place
Sinks into a ravine of dead veins.
Some he says were dead before
And couldn’t carry nothing
And saved him 
A bit more time.
“That was Jordan” he says after she leaves.
“I like to mess with her, show her I’m still
Lucid. Fine ass, in the ring you win
Or die in shame. I asked J to throw in
Her little yappy dog as bait,
Massage its fur with Raid,
Massage it in real good.
I’ve got the next treatment
Riding on that fight.

“Fine-ass you glow,” he wheezes
When they wheel him away.
Just makes sure your man knows
Sacrifice and calling in
A ransom, it all ends in the same 
Damn make-believe. 


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