It’s Raining in L.A. What Else I’m Pose to Do

By SHAUNA BARBOSA 

 

The wolf belongs to the boy I to the wolf
I ask permission to still be myself this time of night.
Sem barriga, sem fome, sem bebida. Blue notes
from a dead man’s tribute creep up my balcony.
Damn, you know how you know a song,
but don’t know a song? I enter him like sheet music
gently blow him like he’s Coltrane. If true liberty 
has no gate why am I always outside of it?
Fingers through cold openings, shuddering
but thankful for family who are already dead.
The departed dipped off their foreign land 
on a boat, just to see their lovechild’s
lovechild’s lovechild, honoring commitments
to everyone but self. The best thing for you to do
is leave him alone someone says to the wolf
says to me I’m still myself I got this. I got it.
I got it. I still got it for that 8-year-old
whose father slapped her for watching 
LL Cool J’s “Doin It” video. LL with a whole
apple in his mouth, watching through a small opening
a woman create a circus of her body.
Papi must have saw it in my eyes, that I knew, even
then, I’d grow to be both the apple and the jaw.
I am Papi’s half flaw on my best day,
Mami’s bursting beast on weak nights.
It’s raining in L.A. what else I’m pose to do
but count all these escudos and,
through a small opening, 
reminisce my way back to him 
wolf the image of his wife out to sea.

 

Shauna Barbosa is the author of the poetry collection Cape Verdean Blues. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, AGNI, Iowa Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry Society of America, PBS Newshour, Literary Hub, and others. She was nominated for PEN America’s 2019 Open Book Award and was a 2018 DISQUIET International Luso-American fellow. Shauna received her MFA from Bennington College in Vermont and is currently working on her second book project—a compilation of stories based on her six-month research residency in Cabo Verde.

[Purchase Issue 20 here.]

It’s Raining in L.A. What Else I’m Pose to Do

Related Posts

Deborah Lindsay Wiliams headshot and Issue 20 cover

Podcast: Deborah Lindsay Williams

DEBORAH LINDSAY WILLIAMS
Deborah Lindsay Williams speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “‘You Like to Have Some Cup of Tea?’ and Other Questions About Complicity and Place,” which appears in Issue 20 of The Common magazine.

Silvia Guerra

Translation: Moss on a Smooth Rock

SILVIA GUERRA
Nocturnally tied / The aquatic whistling pine / and the goldfinch in the garden / Over the dark torment / of being one Of being two / of loving // The waters / the swans. / The lagoon // The thin horizon / and shivering straw / At the sides of / the line...

Image of a goat on a cliff.

Trap Street

KAREN SKOLFIELD 
Twitch of the cartographer’s hand and a street / is born, macadam free, a tree-lined absence, / paved with nothing but a name. No sidewalks, / no chalk, no children’s voices, / a fence unlinked from its chains, / the cars unmoored, corn left to its rubble...