National Poetry Month Day 19: Aziza Barnes


Steeple Talk

didn’t know what they were called those white poles jutting out of baptist rooves. they want you to know from a mile away that’s a church, go the real estate agent. in water valley the houses are a hundred years old & they are protective of their land the real estate agent says protective & looks at me like I’ve seen a lynch mob in real time & know the signs one of which is spray painted on the adjoining wall to a property hawk strewn above it JESUS IS COMING GET RIGHT OR GET LEFT & what is the deal with this jesus club? can a sinner-bitch get an amen? I mean, am I right? I ask the real estate agent about the neighbors on this plot:

me: why are they burning those trees?
the real estate agent: because its their trees.

she say they hunt too & I may accidentally get shot. a local & national pasttime & I’m glad all my inhabited towns have something in common. you’d have to install french drains out here for when the rain comes & those can be expensive. & I’m in bed when I notice the rain walked inside. A toe deep pool & peeling off my postcard of James Baldwin at 5am.

I plot how to kill the water. could I vaccum it up? blow dry until it conforms to air? the sockets are wet & anyway that’s not how water works. you can’t murder it or already dead things. I press on the wall fat with cold & the house absorbs it. that is a god I can pray to. mold is a jesus I’m left with. I lick the wall & watch how we make sweet a bloodless choir. ungovernable, being dead & still here.

–Aziza Barnes


Aziza Barnes is blk & alive. Born in Los Angeles, Aziza currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi. Her first chapbook, me Aunt Jemima and the nailgun, was the first winner of the Exploding Pinecone Prize and published from Button Poetry. Her first full length collection i be but i ain’t, is forthcoming from YesYes Books Spring 2016.


Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →