Bad Flowers and Graveyard Dirt (for Patti Smith)

by Tanaka Mhishi

Momma grew bad flowers
outta her butt cheeks
tak-a-tak rhythm
running a train track
though cotton panties.

She found me in the street 
the way Albertine found her
the way Jean Genet found her
the whole bastard ancestry 
of rock star poets going back 
to God herself

and now God is shucking oysters at the deli,
watching sweat hiss down salt arms
until it evaporates
halfway to the ground.

Momma I’ve got a belly full of poems
and a demon on my back, and all
the demons come with backups;
show them a cruciform and they’ll reboot.

Momma they raped me by the station.
Momma they chained me to the earth.
Momma my body doesn’t fit like it used to.

I went to sleep at night thinking I would die
I went to sleep at night hoping I would die
I went to sleep at night, woke up in Père Lachaise 
breathing bone dust.

Momma where were you in the night?
Where was your holy voice 
and your wrists that look like mine?
Where were your wings when I needed them?

Momma I have seen the face of God
and she is awkward
Boy elbows. White shirt.
Sainted urchin. Car crash alchemist.

Momma thank you. 
You taught me rough 
and weird 
and urgent 
Momma thank you. 
Thank you.

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