Sauce on the Side


after Terrance Hayes

I come from a long line of speakers in tongues
flaunting high top sneakers and price tags flopping
new fitteds. I graduated from a school of sighers
and teeth suckers; oh boy-ers; from Royal Crowns
and flour tortillas, from the annals of daytime
television I tumbled out the dryer, a warm tangle
of sweater sleeves. Born afraid of nothing, I
inherited a wedgie of melancholy before my first
orgasm. Yes, rubbing it out rubbed it in. I come
from a long line of Pine Sol users and Vicks
Vaporubbers, of olive oil anointers, of Catholics
cum Apostolic. I fought pods of Alabamian sperm
to ova Panameña for this moment. My parents
were writing themselves when they started writing me:
a dime store Pulitzer. The Western world says I possess
the strength of two men, so the surveil. The hot barrels.
The hot takes. They say I am savage, an animal cracker—
dip me in milk, hope I’ll dissolve, fulfill the promise of
your Oreo. I come from a long line of clothespins and sky
hammocks. Instead of a stork, picture an angel with the trots.
I keep corymbia citriodora in the hand of my palm.
I come from a long line of thwarted entrepreneurs,
bundlehouses and made ways. I come blessed like
cocolon, Caesars fresh out the barber y platos de arroz
con pollo
from corner bodegas. I am part flamingo,
part Black Howler. My conception was not immaculate.
My cosmic mother’s name is Tea Tree and my cosmic
papa only knows his drag name: God.

Randy James

—2nd Place Winner of the 2019 Emerging Poet Prize—

From guest judge Kim Addonizio: 'There is dazzling energy and propulsion in this poem of origins and identity. I loved both its seriousness and its humor, as well as its wry self-awareness. Make way for this speaker who is “part flamingo,/part Black Howler.”' Randy James is a poet, student, teacher, and organizer. His interests include improvisational art, equity, and researching popular cultures. He has studied at UCLA, and his work has been published in Myriad, Westwind, FEM Newsmagazine, and Red Cedar Review. He lives in Oakland, California, although he is originally from Los Angeles.