Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected two poems by Morgan Parker for his series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.

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Glenn Ligon, “Palindrome #1” (2007) (photo by thejakeroberts/Flickr)

Black Ego (Original Sound Track)

Language back then was a fly behind
my eyelid and I was getting even harder

to love. Was the cigarette falling
from my grandfather’s sleeping lips,

how I still can’t figure the need for saviors.
A little bit about me: Never learned

my real name, and sometimes I think
I see his fedora in the smoke I make.

The way they tell it, the sand and river
are real, and I move in them.

I say you don’t want any of this shit
right here. It is easy for me to forget

about molecules. I began, which is
not the same as being uncovered.

My real name easy as prints on glass.
My real name can’t help myself.

Origin was a mystic bounce:
it’s fair to say

I can’t sit still. First bass line
settled into the wood floor of my chest

like a gasp. Here is a possible scene
from a black and white movie about me:

I’m a man on my couch, legs wide
and wondering, or drooling wine

and Oreo crumbs into my cleavage
and I am still broke.

I boil water in sepia light.
I know a little something,

another Morgan narrates, about what makes
the blues blue. A creamy song shakes

the window like a wave. Sights just don’t
do it for me anymore, and I toss back

my motionless hair as if it isn’t a symbol,
as if I have swallowed Lana Turner’s eyes

from a cordial glass. I keep trying
like a fool to be sincere: There are only

nails in me. I was meant to stay
hungry, to lick my own sword.

Lower The Pitch of Your Suffering

after Kameelah Rasheed

Homie said remember
you done shed that.
You galactic. You
anaconda. He said funeral
instead of wedding.
He said funeral instead
of elegy. The thing is not yet
dead. I know I wake
with a mouthful of salt.
I came through numb waters
a garter snake
dragging rosaries
and years. I think
spider bites are ancestors.
I think spilled
drinks are ancestors.
I never believed.

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Morgan Parker is the author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books, 2015), selected by Eileen Myles for the 2013 Gatewood Prize, and There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Coconut Books, 2016). A Cave Canem fellow, graduate of NYU’s Creative Writing MFA program, and poetry editor for Coconut Magazine, Morgan lives in Brooklyn where she is Education Director at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA). You can find her at www.morgan-parker.com.

“Lower The Pitch of Your Suffering” takes its title verbatim from a work of the same name by artist Kameelah Rasheed.

Joe Pan grew up along the Space Coast of Florida and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut poetry book, Autobiomythography & Gallery, was named “Best First Book of the Year” by Coldfront...