after Jamaica Kincaid
be honest with your psychiatrist about how the meds have kept you from cumming: 
even while fantasizing about Priyanka Chopra—her cascading curls, 
tumbling down her shoulders; don’t feel ashamed after your lover has suggested 
other ways to be intimate: like learning how to speak Urdu so that on sleepless nights 
you can recite Ghalib’s ghazals to her while holding hands near the mango tree; 
on the rare chance you’re not awake, smash the snooze button; 
continue dreaming about a world where you don’t perceive that therapy 
is just for white folks; forget what your family says; you can’t shake off suicidal
thoughts the way a dog shakes off mud; stop believing that emotion makes you soft; 
stop cracking jokes about your weight to keep from crying; quit 
splurging on Jordans—you fear leaving creases that’ll look 
like the folds on your brain; be cross-legged flexible when your doctor 
prescribes new pills that’ll quell spending sprees but boost irritability; 
teach yourself how to touch your body with the recklessness of a love 
spell; be careful while embracing nostalgia: there was nothing comforting 
about being stranded in the fog & flunking out of college; this is how to pray
to a Hindu god to keep you from being an obstacle to yourself; 
this is how to extract strength from a peacock feather; this is how to pinpoint 
where spirituality intersects with magic; this is how to bury dead weight 
(alive); let the vortex swirling in your whiskey glass pull hopelessness 
towards the void; this is how to receive encouragement from a rose; 
this is how to give yourself permission to spend days doing nothing; 
this is how to convert gravity into a hammock; this is how to ignore the fertilizer’s 
toxic advice; this is how to make lemonade with the hands of your disorder; 
don’t be afraid to dance after euphoria has finished deejaying; put some respect
on the canary’s melody that serenades serotonin; this is how to remain 
stable in a pharmacological subterfuge; this is how to forgive 
the doctor who misdiagnosed you as having ADHD; this is how 
to turn grief into bridges leading to people who think that they’re 
suffering alone; this is how to keep your black curtains in check 
for being enablers; this is how to fuck up the rhythm of The Grim 
Reaper’s rapid breathing; this is how to hypnotize him into believing that his scythe 
is a butterknife; this is how to prevent negative energy from breaking bones; 
this is how to console yourself if Bollywood flicks & whiskey can’t help 
you escape; never seek pity from a pothole; channel your rage by bumping 
Missy Elliot in your Pathfinder; don’t just up & leave a concert 
when your imagination gifts you ideas for a poem; don’t tranquilize 
the elephant in your room unless you want karma to put its foot on your neck.


Jonathan Moodyauthor of Olympic Butter Gold (winner of the 2014 Cave Canem / Northwestern University Press Prize), has poetry that’s appeared in Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, and other journals and anthologies. Moody teaches English at South Houston High School and lives in Pearland, Texas, with his wife and three sons.

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