anjing my mother calls you.
how dare you defy what god has given you?
i see what she means. i see your wet
eyes, mouth hung open, dry panting. you
are nothing but craned neck
trying to hide his leash. you call my mother too
obedient when your hand curls into a fist
when she isn’t.
i’m meant to be a boss
you say as you kneel to men and countries
who have betrayed you tenfold.
i hate you, all of you denying
what the sun left on the back of your palms, missing
its warmth when winters come too cold
in our one bedroom, five-occupant walk up
where my brother’s kintamani stares
until i give him a treat, or scratch his belly.
another ancestral-when-convenient boy, paws open,
no thumbs to hold onto what lies in front of them:
steam heat, god, a mother’s hug, scratched ears, a daughter.
sonnet as a survival guide for both versions of this city
you knock on the door
two, three, seven times yelling
and i fear everything
that comes out, in, and in front
of the doorstep.
but you need this night
and I need this night
to not swallow me alive,
like an LED entry wound
promising pink volume
gushing, shouting, swearing,
pressing against me
& my sequins, too many
in glitter, shimmer, my face
another gaping hole when I bite through the blue pill,
every sparkle is an exit wound,
so you can leave whenever for now,
come closer, look beyond this.
Do you see do you
see do you do
i’m not a partygoer
i’m too scared to dance for all
i just bite i
don’t want to break.
i coax my body
body into thinking
thinking it’s still
still it’s alive
i won’t even understand
in 9 months, a winter after,
“shake it off”
i won’t need to miss
my poor hands clutch
the lonely air.
come next year, it finds company in you.
Dena Igusti (she/they) is a queer Indonesian Muslim poet, playwright, and journalist based in Queens, New York. She is the co-founder of Asian multidisciplinary arts collective UNCOMMON;YOU and literary press Short Line Review. She is a 2018 NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador and 2017 Urban Word Federal Hall Fellow. She is a 2019 Player’s Theatre Resident Playwright for her co-written Off-Broadway production SHARUM. She is a 2020 Ars Nova Emerging Leaders Fellow. Her work has been featured in BOAAT Press, Peregrine Journal, and several other publications. She has performed at The Brooklyn Museum, The Apollo Theater, the 2018 Teen Vogue Summit, and several universities across the nation. Her forthcoming collection will be published with Game Over Books in Summer 2020.