Poetry: Jennif(f)er Tamayo


which is to say that I wanted to be outside of my body; a book about trauma 

& the thing is that only in Amerikkka are ghosts see-through things 

told me that embodiment is a way of acknowledging that all the stuff we know 

that exist in movies, only in Amerikkka are ancestors dead things, gone things 

our body knows first & that even if I know something in my spirit, my body will know 

my ancestors aren’t dead they are waiting to hold me, hold me like a dagger 

otherwise unless I talk to it; so i said a prayer into the space between my tits 

or a wand; they are waiting for me to help them make vengeance; 

the space where the folds are tightening with age & i said a prayer like a hum 

when i was little my mom told me i’d meet my ancestors 

& told it that it could forget or, better, that it could stop remembering so actively 

as ghosts when i turned 13 like all the other women in my family; little little 

that it didn’t need to think that every fight had to be a fight to the death, that it was

i’d walk around with my eyes closed in the dark because i wanted to see 

kill or be killed (tho sometimes it is!), but that fights with lovers and friends could 

nothing, NO ESTOY LISTA i’d yell into a room & they would fall through the floor 

just be wishes or desires; so i told the space between my tits that i would 

& because I came to Amerikkka where ghosts are for play & can’t do anything 

hold it so it could cry and remember that i was here for it; i rubbed the space with 

but boo, I didn’t see anything & I turned 14 & i turned 15 

my shoulders pulled all the way back so that i was the shape of a harp & I slipped 

& I turned 28 & I turned 37 & didn’t see fucking anyone & and now i am begging 

my hand under my shirt & rubbed & I hummed so loud that the seat vibrated 

for a ghost to possess me; i lay in my bathtub screaming into the steamy water 

& my earrings twisted & danced & I hummed until my throat was sore & 

TAKE ME NOW!! inviting Abuela Chilin, the one who read tea leaves & refused to 

the spot between my tits changed color, something plummier & translucent & I 

take anyone’s name, to possess me; she might have the courage

hummed so hard grains of sand fell from my body & the soreness became a whirling 

to settle into this body & pick up a weapon & if i were you, i’d sleep 

hole inside me so mucky I could reach inside and grab them by the ankles 

with my mouth wide open so if one of them gets the urge they know you 

my sisters 

are ready for whatever needs to happen next

Jennif(f)er Tamayo is a performer, poet and essayist. She is the author of the poetry collections [Red Missed Aches, Read Mistakes, Red Mistakes, Read Missed Aches] (2011), YOU DA ONE (2017) and to kill the future in the present (2018). JT has received fellowships from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, The Arts Research Center, Hemispheric Institute, and CantoMundo. Her work has been staged at The Brooklyn Museum, BAMPFA, Midtown Arts & Theatre Center Houston, and La Mama Theatre among others. Currently, JT lives and works on Ohlone and Patwin lands and is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at the University of California Berkeley. Her research explores how contemporary Black and Indigenous poets use vocal and sonic practices to counter-narrate histories of colonial violence.