Tyehimba Jess


missing consonants the raggedy way
a beggar or a bad-ass misses teeth,
it found the shape of our mouths,
snuck in like a second-story-man,
and laid claim to whatever adult or adulation lay inside.
sixth grade’s paul daniels was one cray-zy muh-thuh-fuh-cka
for doin’ push ups in the middle of detroit’s meyers road
during after school traffic, daunting the cars
with a slow count to ten before he sauntered off the asphalt.
he was also the muddafucka you wanted on your side
if some shit was gonna jump off.
this in a town where even the mayor might call you
motherfucker, like he did the governor of michigan,
and then explain to the press
that look, it wasn’t nothing personal,
ya’ll asked me twenty times
if i thought the man was gonna
sign the budget, and i said
hell, ask the mothafucka yourself.
think pronoun, think colorful replacement for him.
and when motown’s carl carlton said
she’s a bad mamma-jamma
we knew the code he was speakin’
to us in the streets.
thanks for the alternative, carl:
one we can slip slide off the tongue in front of teacher,
one that even the sunday preacher might sneak into sermon,
but when it comes down to it, when the shit hits the fan
you gotta get all verb tense about it, and muthafuck all the pretense
cause i’m about to act a muhfuckin’ fool up in this joint.
i mean,
will the real mother fucker please stand up?
are you the devoted fucker of mother,
one who would stay to raise his kids
to be bigger, badder, better motherfuckers?
are you one who simply fucks our mothers?
one who fucks any mother in sight?
one who, by fucking, left bastards behind?
one who fucks his own mother-
one who could make themselves
their own bastard child?
and would you please tell us
why you always seem to boil down
to one simpler, smaller word;
another one we could fit in our mouths
but never figure all the way out – daddy.