After Big Freedia

The man at the bar
                               in the George Bush International Airport
is telling jokes
                               about how Houston had oil once
& then he says the oil left
                               & then he says
Houston had hollow men
children with candle wax melting
                               into the frosting
of their birthday cakes
                               & I think
of how we will stop at nothing
                               to make men rich
to drag the oil back
                               how we pretend the money
isn’t still slick with it
                               after all these years
how we imagine the land dry & sinless
                               & I think
of how I am in an airport
                               named after a man
who raised a man
                               who raised a war
Oh, America
                               all black work & black dance
& white noise
                               all bodies in coffins
& monuments to the people
                               who put them there
& isn’t that funny?
                               not funny like the way it’s funny
when your father tells a good joke
                               or a bad joke
but his laugh fills a room
                               & you remember that he’s still alive
I think this is funny like
                               seeing the edge of the cliff
you are barreling towards
                               with no brakes
& speaking of funny
                               have you heard the one
about black people & water?
                               how there would not be one
in this country
                               without the other?
how the water
                               our first mother
crawls to a southern porch in summer
                               & wishes us back to the womb?
a man floats facedown
                               through New Orleans on CNN
& the anchors talk about Mardi Gras
                               & that’s the joke I guess
the joke is that living is a party
                               the joke is that some invitations
got lost in the mail
                               & yet here is Beyoncé
daughter of Alabama
                               daughter of Louisiana
well of rich oil
                               sprouting out of Houston’s cracked earth
Beyoncé on the television
                               two middle fingers ablaze with jewels
Beyoncé on the television
                               her daughter’s hair picked high to heaven
Beyoncé’s back arched on a death machine
                               submerged in the water of New Orleans
being pulled below
                               & I guess the funny part is
how the water wants us back
                               even when it has to swallow
the bones of something else
                               to get us
& Beyoncé vanishes
                               into the dark wetness
& I look down in Houston
                               & my skin is wet
& my feet are wet
                               I mean there is water
rising from the cracks in the floor
                               I mean the walls are coming apart
& a thick braid of ancestors
                               are walking into the room
big mamas & aunties
                               pops with a cane to keep his limp steady
                               & a few niggas
who didn’t make it
                               out of the cocaine era alive
packed to the walls
                               of a Houston airport bar
each with a dance aching to crawl out of their spines
                               black & breathing underwater
black & playing jazz at this never-ending funeral of America
                               long skirts being pulled up to dance
a mean waltz in the aisles
                               breakers flattening boxes to spin atop
a soul train line a mile long
                               Beyoncé is submerged in the deep
& the Houston airport is a juke joint
                               I can taste the salt in the air
I can taste where sweat becomes
                               just another type of ocean
that begs for the skin
                               I can hear the fresh echos off the walls
                               I did not come here to play
                               I did not come here to play
                               I did not come here to play
I did not come here, really
                               I was carried
from somewhere else
                               I was nothing once
& then I was a set of eyes
                               blooming into the heat
rising out of the slick black oil
                               a whole new country
looking at my body
                               & running a tongue along its pink lips
& isn’t that funny
                               isn’t that just the best joke
isn’t that the wind which holds you
                               for a soft moment
before the fall comes