About the Writer
Diannely Antigua is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts Lowell where she won the Jack Kerouac Creative Writing Scholarship. She is currently an MFA candidate at New York University and an Associate Poetry Editor for BOAAT. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Day One, Vinyl, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn.
AFTER READING SHARON OLDS
I decide to write more poems
about my father’s dick. I’ve seen it before
birth, the pupil of my mother’s eye a part of mine then.
We must have stared at it, erect with purpose, plunging
its thickness into the air, our open legs ready to receive
the unfaithful gift. I want to tell my father
I lost my virginity to a man
with his name, let the whole of his letters enter me,
maybe they were already there, entering my mother
again, from the pointed V to the rounded r at its tip.
I want to tell him about that summer—the backseat of the Volvo,
how I’d hoped for a bed, hoped for a kindness, thought
the car was a crib, arms reaching to be held,
then remembered his joke, said he’d put my infant body
in the oven, if I didn’t stop crying, I wanted to stop
crying then too, riding
the roughness of something I didn’t want,
how he said así así, looked at me with a face between violence
and joy. I imagined
their dicks—the father’s, the fucker’s—
the color of wet sand beginning to dry, the swell
of Spanish with each thrust, releasing the same white
we accepted or let spill on leather seats, let
crust, the yolk left on a plate no one wanted to claim.
I won’t call them papi, the men that enter and exit with a wave
of cologne. Their smell—taxi cabs after
groceries, merengue in July, at the bodega
the cashier calling morena, morena,
the moan on his lips.
WHEN I TRY TO EXPLAIN MENTAL ILLNESS
It’s like the smell of your own shit,
you sit in the stench because it’s yours. Someone
told you it was all in your head, and you
sat in a hospital bed throwing up charcoal
because you took too much of something
with your name on it. Sometimes you grow
allergic to the morning and how it greets you
with painful welcome, a smile from
a lover who’d found someone new.
What was the word he called you? Dissociative or
maybe too aware of connections, when you tasted
strawberries again after a year without them
and you thought the seeds on your tongue were
a rough chin you’d said no to
a decade before. Someone said daddy issues
and you said fuck you but wrote it down
anyway. It’s trying to smooth out a wrinkle
on linen, you make more wrinkles. It’s
hearing the creak of your door open at night,
your mother coming to check the 10
toes, 10 fingers on your adult body. You
close your eyes and give her the comfort of numbers.
There are also numbers on little bottles, and
you swallow, swallow, swallow what’s inside. Open your
mouth, they say and it’s a vanishing
they can appreciate. It’s not beautiful, but
it’s beautiful, you want to tell them. Listen
to the way my heart beats three times too fast,
the white and brown flame of
a deer’s tail, disappearing into the trees.