Poem of the Week

ASMR Sleepcast: The Night After Being Released from the Rural County Jail

Faylita Hicks

The highway swells like tide and I lie awake, willing
dozens of wheels to swerve loose of the pile-up
I know is coming, always comes, when I am away,
being Black and bothered. Under its waves, coyotes
make long-distance calls with the dog from the apartment
above me. All night, someone has been mad or lighting up
over something the dog has done. The dog must drown
and there it goes, off into the wilderness, alone.
Late into the foggy afternoon the next day, I listen
to the glass bottles and ash-cans roll softly down the sidewalk
of Aquarena Springs Drive, into uncut grass and trees
outlined in neon signals for shearing; into the wet and cluttered
clearing dotted with grocery bags and baby blankets,
tied up like walls and hanging from a few dozen branches.
The ascetic origin of this low-rent luxury view is a parking lot by the river
filled with hundreds of kennels, and inside them: thousands of dogs
calling out to the woods. From my bed on the floor by the window,
I can faintly hear the drooling specters of Hays County: murmuring curses
over cards, their plastic chips swept roughly across coarse green felt;
their condoms unwrapped under restaurant tables;
the twist and spit of their Tampicos sweating;
the creaking yawn of their bar’s wooden door left hanging on its hinge;
the quick lick of a flame brought to a small still green pasture
rolled tight and dank between their lips; and over it all—
the constant pulse of a siren circling my building—hungry;
yet another judge’s thick-headed gavel trying to snap into place:
the cellophane, a dog, and someone’s wheels.
Here, we can only ever fall asleep
to the sounds of the river flooding.

Faylita Hicks is a queer Afro-Latinx activist, writer, and interdisciplinary artist. They are the author of HoodWitch, a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award, the 2019 Balcones Poetry Prize, and the 2019 Julie Suk Award.
Originally published:
June 2, 2021

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