Praying Mantis

Michal 'MJ' Jones

At twilightamidst firefliesI find him ingarden cabbages,lift him gently into an open-faced K-Swiss box.Undisturbed. I watch him standstill in deceptive devotion.Spike-linedlimbs fold to anunruly God, how anypreacher's son enchants. I'mentranced, seduced almost. Clocksslow as his movementsglacier before heat came.Transfixed tillightning bugs fadetheir sleep. Mama comes overto collect me indoors, stares at mystaring, and cautions:be careful, those can be dangerous.

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Michal ‘MJ’ Jones is a poet & parent based in Oakland, CA, and the Editor-In-Chief of Foglifter Press. They have a debut full-length poetry collection, HOOD VACATIONS from Black Lawrence Press, and a chapbook, SOFT ARMOR, from Nomadic Press.

Michal 'MJ' Jones’ debut Hood Vacations is a rhythmic & quiet rumbling — an unflinching recollection of Blackness, queerness, gender, and violence through lenses of family lineage and confessional narrative. A nostalgia for an unreachable home permeates these poems: “We were mighty beautiful once, in golden dust.” The speaker of Hood Vacations tells of magic: of praying mantises, bathtub octopuses, Black ghosts, & bringing back “rainbow soap colors”. It is a book of passing — as, through, and on. Hop on in.

"Hood Vacations is a massive triumph of lyric, of narrative brilliance, of imagery. But, above all, this book is generously transportative. The page becomes a portal through which a place emerges, and then becomes as familiar as your own home."
—Hanif Abdurraqib

"Hood Vacations is a tender debut that takes us on a journey of Black childhood in the suburbs, the awakening of political consciousness, and the self-determination of young adulthood. It is a narrator that goes from child to parent, and the attendant worries and joys that come from being responsible for growing life. Jones deploys a variety of received and innovative poetic forms that engage in a formal shaping and reshaping of content to produce different registers of praise, recollection, and discernment. Like an afternoon of listening to the smooth jazz channel, we move through a set of biological and social relationships that imbricate the narrator in a web of becoming."
—Arisa White

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