after Rihanna/ Future/ after Selfish
in the circuit/ cities of men/ gazed over my curves/ now a lake glistens from your tongue/ it was right even/ though it felt wrong/ after stripping thousands/ how do i make/ my way back?/ my lap dance chantried/ after the club/ & a stack of cream/ la cosa es que/ no chingo sin/ parar/ el español/ & let it be said/ chingo sounds like SING/ OH/ i need it round/ on my tongue/ lo necesito en mi lengua/ don’t rush/ el sííííííí/ es tan sensitivo/ the whispered yes/ the permission to proceed/ the waiting / ache/ that/ sings/ but my love/ i survived rape as a child/ there are holes/ in my skin/ you pulled the diamonds out & i stood/ with you inside the water/ saying all the wrong words/ all that astral/ across your chest/ returns me to ride/ it was right even/ though it felt wrong/ that gash/ across my arm/ that wouldn’t heal/ across tide/ saying all the wrong words/ you said i was up/ to more/ but i only church for you/ that bright lake extends/ from your fingers now/ far to cross/ i carry un duelo/ from lapping without love/ in México/ a curandero/ prayed the hit away/ we buried it below wild/ love or obsession/ it was right even/ though it felt wrong/ you said we/ can kiss whenever/ you want/ & held out the lake/ an earthquake shining/ inside/ my balanced hips/ i had to let/ the temblor/ settle/ you stare/ say you’ve never seen/ anyone who looks like me/ i need aloneness/ the way i feel/ your hand on my hip/ when we’re apart/ i wake to levitation/ above my bed/ your kiss bullets joy back/ through my skin/ the lake breaking/ you want me fast/ because you love/ through touch/ no vas a soñar dentro el/ dolor en mi piel/ you rub your fingers/ into my chest/ i feel the light on my skin/ & you watch me chant/ myself back
What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?
Emerging sounds like Yuiza emerging from water—her skin all brown golden. Her black braids glistening. A Taino Cacique emerging from blue waters that surround an island—Borinquen. And then the ships come—find her emerging. Record her emerging in Spanish—place her down in their books, in Spanish. And then English. Emerging means to be found—by someone who is not your kin. I want to be found by you. By my kin.
Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?
I have never thought of myself in those terms—it seems to be a phrase used outside of the community that I work most closely within.
What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?
For me, recognition comes from within my community. Lit journals like Apogee and Raspa that break apart neo-colonial frameworks have given my words home. True recognition comes from within an expansive coalition of artists—rather than from outside it.
How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?
The majority of presses are run by white entrepreneurs, which is to say powers outside of our immediate community decide which voices to publish—or even which POC voices are important enough to publish. Which is to say that they decide if my work fits into their concept of QTPOC narratives. Whereas, lit spaces run by QTPOC tend to have a wider run of artistic range and voice—we are allowed to speak our complex narratives. We are free to break form bound by European colonial standards. We are free to use language—multiple languages. And to decolonize our love. That said—support presses run by Black and POC publishers like which just put out Yasmin Belkhyr’s Bone Light. And Honeysuckle Press which is putting out their first set of chapbooks next year.
What does community mean to you?
My community is ocean—it extends across borders, the offing infinite. My community is the man who lives on 5th Avenue as to my cousin as to my child as to our chosen family. My community is here with you. It is in the water that rushes to meet the light. And it is found in the Bronx and San Juan and Havana and DF, México. It is across the ocean in a desert I have only dreamed. My community is timeless. We know no walls, no mapping of rivers. We think beyond tides.
SARAH MARIA MEDINA is a poet and a fiction/creative non-fiction writer from the American Northwest. Her writing has been published in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Apogee, PANK, Split This Rock, Raspa Literary Journal, and elsewhere. She is an ARTIST UP Grant LAB recipient for her poetry manuscript in progress "Ochun's Daughter." She is also the poetry editor at Winter Tangerine. Medina is Boricua of m/ixed heritage (The United Confederation of Taíno People). She is at work on several projects.