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  • Names for Her; Leviathan; and Calling Instructions: How to Live in Sirens
  • Dana Maya (bio)

Names for Her

My daughter, you were 3 years old& my name was a first wordfrom your tiny fist:

you wrote it alongside yours:page after pageDANA PALMA

& on the wood of your bunk-bedin blue marker still it reads


To name yourself,you named me too.

In some temples they chant108 names for her. So manyways into ourselves

but the only way throughHer

At 46,I am that goddess on the pinkflower extending my

4 arms to name myself:

two back to the mothers: Gloria, Antonia& two forward: Palma, Clio [End Page 191]

Page after page, I learn to writeMy name& her name is always this:


call her Echocall her Nemesis,

Who is speaking? listen & tell meAll her names


Mount Pleasant, Michigan, 1964

My father tells the storyof one of your first dates.You went to see La Dolce VitaFellini

He came from a fishing town on Lake MichiganPentwaterYou came from a port city on the Gulf of MexicoVeracruz

He may have thought that you were simplebecause you spoke only a few wordsin your new languageEnglish

In the end, Marcello Mastroianni & thethe debauched revelers, tired from their longnight of amusements, stumble to thebeach

& watch the fishermen pull a giant stingrayfrom the sea & heave the mass of hisbody from net to sandLeviathan [End Page 192] the one black eyeShining. Their faces encircled in its lens.

My father says when the show was over& you stepped from the theaterhis mind was a dark seastirred like a pot ofointment

You explained to him, catching eachnew word like a slipperyfish in your mouth,that the beast’s eye reflected to the people

their own monstrosity

In that instant, a shore receded—

& my father glimpsedthe stranger he’d befriended:he caughthis own image in the dark pool of your eye& saw

what the strangeness itself could see [End Page 193]

Calling Instructions: How to Live in Sirens

for Tony Robinson & the queer & trans leaders of the Young Gifted & Black Coalition & #FergusontoMadison

Once they call the cops, go ahead & call it Inside, shot a black boy once & then five His life pulled up his body, across his unarmed The long garment of his blood pulled down murder, cause he’s forced the door & times: torso, shoulder, head arms & over his crown like an undressing the stairs & dropped onto the cement stoop
Once they call the cops, go ahead & call it Willy Street the way a boy named Willy Street, near the Co-op, the Social Justice familiar, call murder your home cause we call this Anthony is called Tony, Terrell Center, the street banners that say A Place for All People
Once they call the cops, the dispatch call him the subject to the press neighbors say kid, say teen, say Tony, say Terrell will call him a suspect & the Chief of Police will the press will call him a black man, though all the though his friends say funny & his grandma says gentle
Once they call the cops, the signs will say name? What’s his name? You’ll recall Nina & Baraka singing urgent, calling you, calling #TonyRobinson & the chants call What’s his calling young, gifted, and black, your soul intact all Black people calling you, come on in.
Once the cops are called, in this carceral state, The Chief & the press & preachers, the Open Once the world’s gone siren, think of Odysseus crashing on the rocks—Lash your body to the it’s a world gone siren: the sirens call submit. Lay down. Letters call for peace & objectivity & to wait for the facts. in that old story. How he survived the calls without mast. Be the mast. Let your ears flood with cries. Listen
& want & want to be released into some final submit. Be the rowers. Stop up your ears with don’t stop. Cause this poem is nobody’s son, sound. Beg for it...


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pp. 191-195
Launched on MUSE
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