Vanessa Jimenez Gabb

my father and i build a family tree

he names dead people
              as far back as two hundred years

he or she would have remembered
              more, he says

it is not morbid his saying

              this i want to get it

all, I say

              in case you are hit by a car tomorrow

this is morbid

              i like the way it feels

to see the blood

              the tiny red bugs

crossing over

              i smear

white nor black

              just alive a moment ago

eyes a little wet

              allergy in the body

gave this away before before
               is it Caribbean

to be intolerant
               is it indigenous to be intolerant

human to be of flowers and dust
               sent into the air

this is either very glorious
               or too ceremonial

i have never asked this
               many closed-ended questions

i hope it doesn’t feel punitive
               to know without sounding

so imperious i am sorry

               something has opened

into more and i am here
               thinking of all the parts of me

that died at the bottom of a long night

               working and if not working

for the government making it work

               in one room

the beginnings of socialism

               or capitalism

how well can we know ourselves

               in different systems of being

question answer parenthetical
               he comes upon a bit of memory

put it beside the men and women

               this is how i will place them

and remember them
               if there is a blank

will go on forever
               far enough into the ghosts

the fucking

               everyone did is in


               the air about us

political it is

               to be here

the backyard in Queens

               spread out like leaves


               pilferers in the rainforest


Vanessa Jimenez Gabb was raised and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is the author of the chapbook Weekend Poems (dancing girl press) and is the co-founder of Five Quarterly. More stuff: