Liberation

Shauna Barbosa

I count gulls until they spasm
into numbers, until I grasp
a number never uttered. I ration
dignity like crackers to lastwhen my own words pan
dust into the mouth of a little gull.
I am a cracker to the plan.
Little gulls are black and full.Little girls are running around
in pink two pieces. I call for cover,
an unspecific temp job, brown
as the wanting of erasure.On the last day of work,
my boss said being black
is a box for checking. I smirked
and danced my hips inside the square.Little gulls feed me not.
I like beaches, and I like counting
until I reach a number rot-
ten with plans. I’m just loungingon a beach chair waiting
for the girls’ laughter as the gulls hang
like check marks. Boxing black slang.
My noise so liberating
it asks to be no one.

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Shauna  Barbosa

Shauna Barbosa’s poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Virginia Quarterly Review, The Awl, Colorado Review, No Tokens Journal, The Atlas Review, and others. She received her MFA from Bennington College and lives in Los Angeles. (Author photo by Sydney Brown)

“In Cape Verdean Blues, Shauna Barbosa’s voice is oracular and shapeshifting. Candid as a family friend, but with a fortuneteller’s gravity, the poems in this debut are full of lyric innovations that cut through alleyways in the mind to achieve a numinous beauty. There’s nothing weary here. These blues are alive with wit and swagger.”
—Gregory Pardlo

Cape Verdean Blues sings its pleasures and its pains. Delighting in the possibilities of linguistic play and undeniable rhythm, Barbosa’s urgent and intoxicating poems honor the poet’s past even as they fashion and refashion a shifting, irreducibly complex, and irrepressible identity that slyly slips our hold.”
—Kathleen Graber

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