H. MacKnight Black Poetry

First Place

Two-Dimensional Jesus

By Jasmine Jay ‘14

“From the fall of the Roman empire to the beginning of The Renaissance,

all anyone ever did was draw two-dimensional Jesus.”

“And when the Renaissance began, is that when Jesus became 3-D?”

“A person doesn’t just become 3-D. They were pictures. And I think you mean three-dimensional.”

Or so you said, brewing one of your famous hailstorms on

an academic field;

you were a mad devil that day.

And I, being that soft love slug,

could only let my intuition gleam in the

dressing trail on my salad:

I couldn’t move to correct you.

Could not tell you, “What you don’t know is that

Jesus is ‘three-dimensional’ as we speak;

by the laws of condensation, gravity, stardust,

when our bodies photosynthesize into the wind and

become both future and past,

Jesus is growing in the garden,

Jesus is racing down a horse track,

Jesus is buying white roses

so those attending his mother’s funeral know

that he needed her in the form of a delicate, whorled plant!”

Though that is not enough, anyway.

I know defeat when I smell it, and

the loss in your two-dimensional Jesus is clear.

You said it yourself:

a person doesn’t just become 3-D.

We can never know the apple core of

Jesus’s brute desire; we can never see the blood of

Jesus’s nightmares

beyond the brown pigment used

to paint his eyes.

Years become symbolized by moments;

neurosis and catharsis,

memorized by pictures.

Life, especially love, in its simplest form

is reduced to colors and shapes:

the red of the bed sheet.

The gray of your eyes.

The arc your hand made when you often felt like

you had to explain things,

and the off-circle of your puckered lips

right before you gave bad news.

At the restaurant, the foolish gold of the table light,

the unnerving symmetry of the bread rolls,

the defeated brown of the T-Bone steak,

martyred on your plate

like a hapless Roman thief—

though, even after that final dinner,

neither of us could’ve known

how to draw up the heart.

 

Honorable Mention

Twin

By Henna Cho ‘14

You are my twin. We have the same face.

We were born on the same day, it’s written on the paper.

We shared a crib, our room was yellow and decorated with elephants.

We drank the same powdered milk and transitioned to the same liquid

food, and on Christmas I wore the elf green dress to your Santa Clause red.

Dad would point out the sleigh, up in the sky with the stars so high

 

Like the metal slide you pushed me down, that high.

I remember your eyes, the look on your face

When you noticed the blood on my knees, the red

that stained the white of my shirt like a sharpie on a piece of paper.

It wasn’t a sight that either of us liked to see, that crimson liquid,

but you turned away to the swing set made by the trunks of orange elephants.

 

And even though we are twins, it was only you who was called an elephant,

followed closely by the shriek of laughter by voices so high

pitched. It was odd though, the way the glistening liquid

streamed down my cheeks, and not from your face.

You shouted at them, defended yourself, threw crumpled pieces of paper

at them. But I knew you wanted to cry. Your eyes were so red.

 

Which reminds me of the time that I found you, eyes red

for a different reason. You moved with the grace of an elephant

in a dollhouse, pieces of dried green crinkling out of the smoking piece of paper

between your fingers. You were so fucking high.

I wanted to snap you out of it, slam my palm across your face,

but who was I to judge the air you breathed, the liquids

 

you consumed. And even though we are twins, the liquid

that pours out of your body in the sweaty hot reds

of passion will not match the love that I show, the love that I face.

You will not have to say a word to me. I will recognize the elephant

in the room when you hold the test, and realize that goals placed so high

will be grounded, shatter and tear like a flimsy piece of paper.

 

I am your twin but your choices are not mine. You signed away the life and the paper,

lay on your back and waited while your knees weaken and turn into liquid

as you felt raw emotions and emptiness overcome your being and knock you off your high

horse. Your regret is beaten, torn, raw, red,

your heart is heavier than the thousands of elephants

that decorated our room. I feel your loss with less than a hug and more of a look on your face.

 

Because you are my twin. Our lives started on one paper, but runs two courses in the reds

of our veins. We are two bodies, but our souls are liquid, melted in our memories of elephants.

Our bond is strong, valued highly. But even when we smile together, we can never have the same face.

 

Honorable Mention

The Penguin Figurines

By April Barry ’14

 

You left me alone, pressed up against the penguin

figurines. Why would anyone have

penguin figurines? Something like that screams a wild

Friday night, spent on the couch with some Hemingway, yet, here

we are, thirty people crammed in this tiny,

smelly room. That Kesha song

is too loud and a boy with a nose ring poured beer all

over my new shoes. I want to go home but I’m afraid you

won’t come with, so I’m stuck staring at

these figurines. They’re having more fun

than me, nestled up to each other,

taunting me, seeing right through me to what I’m desperately

trying to avoid: you, in the corner talking to her. It doesn’t

matter, I tell these penguins, they’re friends,

nothing else.

But you flip your hair and I’m not so

sure. Suddenly I don’t think my eyes are tearing up from

the smoke.

 

If we were these penguins you wouldn’t

do this to me. You’d have carefully crafted a nest to attract

my attention, swinging your head and flapping your flippers

to catch my eye. Unable to resist

such a show of affection, we’d stretch our heads and

necks upward with a braying vocal call. I’d lay eggs for you,

you’d keep them safe over the winter while I’m away,

our love and your stored body fat keeping

you and our chick alive. I’ll finally return,

a little fatter from hunting, but you’ll love me anyway

and together we’ll watch as he grows fur.

and you’ll never have eyes for another

penguin.

 

But we aren’t penguins,

and you aren’t going to keep my chick warm

beneath your feet through the harsh winter, calling for me

during mating season. But I wasn’t in Antarctica looking

for you either, I

was in your friend’s scummy house, the drunk girl

crying in the corner, putting the two penguin figurines

in her purse and leaving alone.