2 Poems by Laurin DeChae

why you gotta test me

after Mae Jemison & the Shaolin Afronauts

maybe they thought the fro wouldn’t fit in that globed helmet.
 maybe the mind. but mae, you spoke of gravity and opportunity, 
 conducted experiments on weightlessness and chance, 
 as in: let me just get me hands around this, get them dirty
 for knowing. i’ve never seen your name anywhere,
 but einstein, now that’s a name you can recognize, right?
 he thought that gravity is what happens when space is curved 
 or warped around a mass: a star, a planet. clump & swirl,
 you said, shifting your weight where you stood. how often
 have i seen a white name where a black one should be? 
 branded, exchanged for sugar, tobacco. restrained
 one even asked: are we to be eaten? mouths forced open, 
 aspeculum orum, wide, they would not let us die, 
 but they were quick to erase us. if ancestry 
 tells us anything about the past, it is that we’ve known 
 that when the sky is speaking, it speaks to us.

they will laugh when you want to be lonely

after Sun Ra

do you hear how they talk about space now? 
 language, like music, unseen particles unfolding
 cacophony. now they’re saying that gravity
 weak in the knees because we only see
 one dimensionally. how could there be more? 
if you think of space in equations then
 consider that there are real zeroes 
 so there must be false ones, too. 
 i want to call myself the sun and the moon
 make a wilderness out of my hair, place
 my fingers on a mouth whispering wormholes.
 space is the place where i will go when i’m all alone,
where i go seeking vibrations, traces of the fumes.

Laurin DeChae is a Ph.D. candidate in Composition & Rhetoric at SUNY Albany, where she acts as the poetry editor for Barzakh. She received her M.F.A. in poetry from the University of New Orleans. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, burntdistrict, Rust + Moth, Crack the Spine, and elsewhere.