thin blue cloud smoke
wiry arms         a clothsline,
the sun spins a Busby Berkley parasol
and the scale dips into her dark waters.

you and I are loved
by a man who is canine
or child, or urban folktale
never able to see us

I slide napkins across the table, you
touch the braids of your lips
and it never dawns
            the question of who we were

before him, how we came
cloaked in red, regret
perforating our throats
            in white lace gloves
            or pinstriped winter.

“What we’re trying to figure out is how we can control you.”
after Kanye West

Great art comes from great artists,
there’s a bunch of people that are hurt
that still couldn’t have redefined the
super-polarizing sound of radio,
but I hit every shot.

If you don’t make Christmas presents,
don’t talk to me.
Articulate yourself better.
That’s all I have to say: Kill self

Why did they design the biggest pains
in the lineage of a Miles Davis —
visceral self-belief, The longer your ‘gevity is,
the more fresh kids you build

I’m forever the 5-year-old of something.
90 percent of the time it looks like
I’m not having a good time.
This isn’t America’s baby,
or the next little girl that wants to
give up her anonymity,

I don’t want them to rewrite history right in front of us.
We weren’t there, ready for war.

Justice could just be clearing a path
for people to dream properly, but
I uninvited myself.
people asked me to change my name.

I want the world to be better!
All I want is positive!
Why would you want to control that?

Variation on a Theme (Joy)

She said: That’s why I bristled when Legba called me, like
fuck you want              scrill, nigga?               Fuck your life.

I said: historically, shiftless niggas are the best
at sniffing out bread and joy
because they have neither.

We, a coven with an excess of vocabulary
who skipped class the day they taught synonyms for lust without regret.

I bloodhound that shit— the really smart shiftless ones

You got to retrain your nose.
Foxhunting for aintshit heartache
is sooooo 1997

Girl, say that.                    
That shit was played out
with R. Kelly                    

also telling me no, actually

The night cackled like our dead aunties clutching church fans tight
as daughters whose bodies round and perk before we’re ready.

Right. Pussy went dry as

You got some nerve.
Cornflakes, m’nigga?
Dry AND crunchy?
You ain’t have to do all that.

I tucked myself into a bed of all the mistakes I’ve rode hard and drifted off,
her shoulder a pillow 400 miles away.

Skkknhead Uncle Wins at Scrabble

When we got to Granna’s house I thought maybe
I should ask him whether or not he still intended
to kill me and everyone I loved.

Instead we played Scrabble, and he won
using the word xu: a transliteration
a Vietnamese coin, some jungle penny

rusting in his mouth, as he beamed with pride.
Another small victory for the Aryan race 
stolen from a foreign brown land.

Guitar Bains Interviews Kanye West

Why you putting that shit up your nose?

You can’t tell me. . .

Look, cuz, they’re still killing us
and you out here like you forgot
about Ollie North even tho you named
your babygirl after him,
and you in the studio pushing this
lacefront Freeway Ricky to be grimier
than the fact he used to be a CO.


Alright then, let’s talk about that one line
about leaving dat ass for a white girl.

Nah, see. You’re not gon talk about my girl
when you think revolution means no pussy
or Hen? I been doing this more than you.                  

Brother, you want to be me but you Milk,
toast, it’s a rap. Everybody want a black man’s life
except you. You wanna play at being a seamstress?
Fine, go stitch up every bullet hole in South Side.

You ain’t got the answers. Out here
hunting your Day One and all you got
to show is raggedy peacock feathers &
blood on your sleeves. That’s coon shit.
You can’t tell me nothing. You ain’t my mirror.

You’re right. I’m your grandfather
clock counting the Black Skkknhead
beat. You marching to my rhythm.
If it’s my life you want, then c’mon.

Casey Rocheteau was born on Cape Cod, and raised as a sea witch. She was the recipient of the inaugural Write A House permanent residency in Detroit in 2014. She has attended Callaloo Writer’s Workshop, Cave Canem, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Sicily. She is an Artist in Residence at InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit and an editor at The Offing. Her first book of poetry, Knocked Up On Yes, was released on Sargent Press in 2012. Her second poetry collection, The Dozen, was released on Sibling Rivalry Press in 2016.