Two Poems

I Am Hip Hop


Dead Ass

In the bodega, a young girl wearing
jeans so tight she has to use turpentine
to get them off, says to her friends,
Damn, it’s dead ass raining out!

I was enamored. Instead of cats and dogs,
I pictured donkey corpses falling from
the sky, clogging gutters.
That’s some serious rain.

The song on the radio said that the po-po was:
“tryna catch me ridin’dirty.” I imagined
Chamillionaire wearing a 20-lb. gold chain
with mud dripping off Jesus’s shiny toes,
Krazie Bone in four-hundred-dollar jeans,
with grass stains on the knees.

In Oakland, the sound there is “hyphy.”
To me, that alien word means gooney-goo-goo.
To me, that word is my dead father’s kiss.
But to thousands of youngsters whose trousers sink
below the Plimsoll line of their asses, hyphy
music makes their bodies dip up and down
like an oil drill.

These words make me feel old, and alabaster.
When I hear something new, it’s like I discovered it
for the first time, like I excavated it from the mouth
of a teenager. So I dust it off with my fossil brush
and try to jam it into the keyhole of academia.

I’m not afraid of dope lyrics, not dope meaning weed
but dope meaning good. My kind uses scrilla to board
up the windows of shook.

Fo’shizzle, crunk, hella: I place in glass jars like rare moths.
I want to hang them on the doors of sonnets
like a welcome sign to an apartment
I don’t live in.

—Michael Cirelli, New York, NY
from Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Hanging Loose Press, 2008