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my cousin’s neck is craned into the shape of a decade
his open mouth spread wide enough for his laughter to

spill out & stretch its fingers into the fog of summer
he is choking on the same story of me & my skin

that he enjoys spinning to remind us of our better days
& i have no defense for my adolescence other than

father mike & the way he freed himself of whatever sins
of the week still had a hold of him & he sang praise

until the altar was dripping with his sweat & he had
nothing left but the spirit knocking around in his ribs

as he stretched his tired palms in front of the congregation
& we all rose out of our seats & left our worldly possessions

behind while the hand of god passed through our
unworthy bones & we been trifling all week

but now the slate was clean & we knew it when pastor said
breathe easy & we did & now my cousin is finally coughing out

more of the story & brings the old nissan back to life
& mummy’s hands are at ten & two & the backseat is

a chorus of arms & young laughter & a man on the radio
is trying to make a lover out of anyone listening

& asks that we all take off our shirts & our shoes
& whatever else was keeping us bound & i couldn’t

tell the difference between catching the spirit & having
the night take hold of you & perhaps this is why

i am the only one taking him seriously & slipping out
of all the heavy hanging from my skin as the rest of

my cousins twirl & sweat themselves slick with sugar
& the hymn dies just as my fingers fling whatever is left

of my shackles out the window to live with the stars
& i am a kind of reborn & i too am a type of slick

& the brief silence & this new & free abundance
fill the car at the same time & bring it to a full stop

on the winding tungsten lit street & mummy’s smile
is twirling up into her cheeks & my cousins’ laughter

is the new song in the air & they too have their mouths agape
& are showing off the few teeth that made the journey

through the midnight lurking in their jaws
& i suppose
we are all worshiping as best we can while the evening falls

pitch black around us & coats me invisible & i am a night sky wrapped
around another night sky & i am a shoreline with two moons & i am

a litany without sin & the backseat erupts into a million hallelujahs
& it is true that the foot of any smoke can be made into an altar

& it’s the work of either god or magic to pull the head back
& pry open the lips to let a deathless gold

pour from the lungs

Bernard Ferguson is a Bahamian immigrant that has work featured/upcoming in Mizna, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Third Point Press, and Button Poetry, among others.  You can find him holding down a local Starbucks while mouthing the lyrics to a Drake song and sipping a green tea latte.

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