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CIRELLI, Michael


Dead Ass


In the bodega, a young girl wearing

jeans so tight she has to use turpentine

to get them off, says to her friends,

Damn, it’s dead ass raining out!


I was enamored. Instead of cats and dogs,

I pictured donkey corpses falling from

the sky, clogging gutters.

That’s some serious rain.


The song on the radio said that the po-po was:

“tryna catch me ridin’dirty.” I imagined

Chamillionaire wearing a 20-lb. gold chain

with mud dripping off Jesus’s shiny toes,

Krazie Bone in four-hundred-dollar jeans,

with grass stains on the knees.


In Oakland, the sound there is “hyphy.”

To me, that alien word means gooney-goo-goo.

To me, that word is my dead father’s kiss.

But to thousands of youngsters whose trousers sink

below the Plimsoll line of their asses, hyphy

music makes their bodies dip up and down

like an oil drill.


These words make me feel old, and alabaster.

When I hear something new, it’s like I discovered it

for the first time, like I excavated it from the mouth

of a teenager. So I dust it off with my fossil brush

and try to jam it into the keyhole of academia.


I’m not afraid of dope lyrics, not dope meaning weed

but dope meaning good. My kind uses scrilla to board

up the windows of shook.


Fo’shizzle, crunk, hella: I place in glass jars like rare moths.

I want to hang them on the doors of sonnets

like a welcome sign to an apartment

I don’t live in.