On the doors of a church, where the windows run miles into the sky so high that god herself must reach up to open them a notice reads: no poems.
To my religion, I thank you.
Under your tutelage
You taught me the way to live
In spite of what you expected,
I admire your patience.
I bow in reverence to ask
How I may speak to you
In respect of your greatness
How I may increase
The value of my words
Above being strewn about the floor
As if in place of something
Intended for the value of stepping over.
To my iniquity, I thank you
I tell this to my body
Over and over
To the wind that blows up skirts
To kiss my cheeks
No one ever teaches you about the spaces in your body that will remain unfurnished.
Where the angels cry in mourning
Where you raise two hands to your bumpy parts
I have a love for these thoughts
No poems are allowed in sanctuaries with no address.
And temples with no doors
With children who ask for second helpings
Filling their bellies to the point of aching
Unaware of themselves
No poems are allowed in temples in need of owners.
I tell this to my mind
To the inner workings of my soul
To the woman who bursts forth
To the woman who is not welcome.
No poems are allowed without sleep.
Where the doors are always open
And the offering plates are empty
No poems are allowed in sanctuaries that have not been taken care of in you.
And for sanctuaries
That seek to inhabit creativity
Take, eat of this sacrament
For pieces of you that may reconstruct themselves under bed sheets
And palms that stretch to the edges of the universe
In respect of your humanity Then, and only then, poems.
Jay Délise is a US/UK based poet and performer creating in the combined world of theatre, poetry, and storytelling. A native of the Jersey Shore, Jay is a published poet who has received national recognition for her writing. As a Scholastic Art and Writing Awards National Gold Key recipient, Jay has performed at locations such as Pratt University, The United Nations, The Schomburg Center, The Pulitzer Center, and Carnegie Hall. Audiences included familiar names such as Lin Manuel-Miranda, Agunda Okeyo, Kathy Najimy, Jessica Williams, Jill Dolan, and Abigail Disney. Her work has been highlighted around the world and in publications including Afropunk, Broadway World, Glass Poetry Press, and Huffington Post. Her recent solo spoken word show Black, And…premiered at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival in July of 2019 and was nominated for both “Best Newcomer” and “Best Spoken Word” at the Manchester Fringe Awards. Jay is a poet and a teaching artist, but more importantly, she is black and magic.