what i did with the space
the other day,

— Trace Howard DePass

though the single window inside the
bathroom tried to shatter out of itself,

i did enjoy that shower—scorching enough to peel the paint off the ceiling, literally.
                  i unsheathe shed skin from the wall of my own back.
        & paint over the wall several times. efforts here
became undone more often than a child’s shoelaces. &,
at this point, i blame        paint for being
broken & not the boy
who deserves a space that won’t unstitch
itself under its own sigh.
rips off its pants & cracks a smile & i made myself into a vacant room for so many
bodies for so long, that this room will learn to take what i do to it with heat.
i know the air is homeless, too. it runs like eyes throughout a painting &
is hot enough to see that there’s
that is truly enough to keep you living (here). mist
makes me wish to flee this way—
      that window. the word for this in english, i know, is ​homeostasis, or
in other words, equilibrium, & it brings a little death out a hot room
in order for people to say it happened & is no longer,
or never was. it’s so people can still laugh

& not sink. my mouth adopted into this english,
              like son               to the family he was not originally son of.
              the language       carves, with faulty love, a home in the mouth for each
time i gather       my hands enough to tell the mirror how​ ​beautiful it is​,

a cough caught in the throat
brings the body out the metaphor wherein it is its own room,
back into world wherein my back is hunched
in every room, hawking up the sink’s broken copper & diction,         in order to say
     to the throat, whether import or export, any act                   of english
          almost inflicts the same nuanced process of deaths
so much so, the walls are painted                               involuntary blood;
so much so, i am half-filled
english                                                   &
                every indigenous/african tongue
slips out the windows of my body each time
         we rap in the shower, or breathe.

                              i laughed with a sink,
                              the other day. you ain’t got no tongue, my sink laughed
itself off the wall. itself out the hinge that glue can become. [& what was left
looked like an endless broken jaw.] it took everything that i did not have—
which i still owe in late fees—to get it to stop laughing. no one asked how
i kept the lights on;
                              how i could still speak.

Read more from Issue No. 19 or share on Twitter.