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5 poems by Khadijah Queen - The Feminist Wire

5 poems by Khadijah Queen

I don’t remember how old I was when I saw Lou Rawls but we were on Wilshire somewhere with my mom & he drove a Rolls the color of rich cream every finger had gold & diamonds on it & the woman passenger wore a white fur coat & her bouffant stretched high enough to almost brush the inside roof of the car she also had on a lot of jewelry but not as much as Lou & we knew who he was because he had just performed on Solid Gold or Soul Train & I am pretty sure it was nighttime in the spring because I remember his lights were on & my legs were cold so I must have had on a dress or shorts my mom said for us to wave so we waved & he smiled & tapped the horn & glided on down the street in sparse traffic

 

 

I saw Elton John in a nightclub in Atlanta called Tongue & Groove my sister thought he was an imposter but his haircut seemed right & no one could miss those rhinestone-framed eyeglasses & lime green paisley suit & purple satin shirt & matching necktie except maybe the drunk twentysomethings dancing slash stumbling you could smell the alcohol in the humid air & feel the spills fuse to your shoe soles & I was unlucky I had just gotten dumped & some fool splashed half a Long Island Iced Tea on my white dress & I was ready to go & dancing was supposed to make me feel better but instead marked the end of seeing nightclubs as fun despite the cologne-infused wake of Elton John whizzing by so close I could see the fabulous gap in his teeth

 

 

Living in Colorado I don’t meet any celebrities but I did go on a date with a former pro football player right when I felt ready for another relationship something simple but not precluding depth & he was very sweet & straightforward which was good but then he said he didn’t like to read & his text messages were a little off i.e. did you know God sometimes makes matches while we still up in heaven? I heard that from a grapevine so although his body was a wall of muscle & he spoke kindly to the waitress at dinner & complimented my 4-inch open-toed leather boots & black skinny jeans & said he wanted to learn a lot from me I saw too much work & felt like Seinfeld because it grossed me out that his food & my food went home with him in a Styrofoam container & I already have a job & a kid so I told him I wanted to move slowly & neither of us called the other back again

 

 

A guy I met on Tinder took me to see Lionel Richie at Red Rocks Amphitheater I had on 3-inch gold heels stupidly because you have to climb approximately 8,901 steps which slope at a 45 degree angle but redeemed myself by keeping a pair of flats in the car also gold luckily matching my black slacks & ecru shell & light sweater I was glad I brought the sweater even though it was June since when the sun went down it still wasn’t warm enough & my date also let me wear his jacket & wrapped an arm around my shoulders & we had just met but it wasn’t weird at all just a moment that made me love dating in my late 30s & our whole row sang along to all the songs & on that outdoor screen Lionel Richie looked like he hadn’t aged a day since 1988

 

 

The same year I found out who Audie Murphy was I got stretch marks I was 12 & living in a battered women’s shelter in Long Beach with my mother & sister & I filled out too fast from eating too much junk food & noticed the light striations after my first shower there I put on sandals & a loose pale blue summer dress that tied at the shoulders & saw the woman in the bunk across the room organizing pictures in a raggedy green photo album she lay there propped up on a thin elbow & I asked who is that & she didn’t reply just turned to a page that had his name & stared at Audie Murphy so hard her inch-thick glasses fogged up & I think it bothered her son who was my age & very smart but he didn’t complain he took really good care of her she would kiss the pictures & say in a clear voice I might be tall & you might be short Audie Murphy but you’d better tell those Western girls you’re all mine

 

 

khadijahKhadijah Queen is the author of Conduit (Black Goat/Akashic Books 2008), Black Peculiar (Noemi Press 2011), and Fearful Beloved, due out from Argos Books in fall 2015. Her chapbooks include I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (Sibling Rivalry 2013) and Exercises in Painting (Bloof Books 2016). Individual poems and prose appear or are forthcoming in Fence, jubilat, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Memoir, Cutthroat, Tupelo Quarterly and widely elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2014 Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers for her verse play Non-Sequitur, with full production to be staged by NYC theater company The Relationship in late 2015. Visit her website: khadijahqueen.com.

 

Photo credit: J. Michael Martinez