Taté Walker

I Like Tacos

I want you
an ache 
deep in my core
drives me
to collect the pieces of you
scattered around
like raw promises
waiting for me
to feast

I lick my lips
salivating at the thought
of your splintered fragments
coming together and reforming
into something beyond both of us
it makes me 
I work my fingers
through a mound
of your sticky recipe
kneading every part of you
letting you rise

you like it rough
a slap here
a pull there
stoking the fire
and stretching your limits
until gently
so gently
I lay you flat
not to rest
but to burn

you writhe for me
sizzling with expectation
I wait
and hungry for you
it is ecstasy to watch
your hills and valleys
slick and glistening
and drowning in the pop song
of anointed blue birds

but we’re not finished
just as you’re about to combust
I flip you 
and start the mad process over
your body undulates for me
and suddenly
the hot
brown perfection
that is you
is ready for my tongue

sometimes we play around 
with honey
when you’re feeling soft
and warm
or sometimes we get wild like rice
but tonight
there’s only meat
experiment on your commod bod
with dairy-free cheese
that melts in my mouth
and my hand

round in all the right places
your lovely lumps
taste so good
and I moan your name
thanking the ancestors for the gift
that will forever sit
upon my soul
and thighs
you are my deliciously undeniable

The Darkest Everything

i am buried 
so deep
and dark
in your glorious universe
the obsidian space around 
so rich with unexplored life
my joy stretches like 
summertime shadows
felt in your vivid 
blacks and browns
shades of warmth 
and strength
protection against the bright white
that exposes all our faults and fears
there’s a lie in light
burning us away from one another
turning our underground ceremony 
to ash
tricking us into believing that dirt 
with its endless possibilities for growth
is unclean
its glare tries to colonize 
our hopes with dread and disdain for 
the dark offers
as if the expansive unknown
isn’t always a
mysteriously murky adventure
where we find ourselves
rooted together
ready to bloom
two spirits
rising together 
with winter’s new moon
into the darkest 

Viral Aspirations: A Love Story

once upon a time the Earth was overrun 
with those who filtered Themselves against reality
hiding behind perfection and capitalism’s illusions of security
They grammed and primed while the world burned around Them
everything’s fine, They tweeted alongside a photo of an “I Voted” sticker
baby steps and bootstraps, They reminded the rioters
just use a metal straw and remember: not all white people 
lol #like4like #makethisgoviral

when the Pandemic came
not even Google could save Them
They mixed boredom and privilege into an infectious cocktail of meme-ific sinophobia
Am I worthy? They asked with every mundane rendition of the latest 20-second song
Their posts pleaded for connection
so They connected in the toilet paper aisle
spreading panic faster than any virus
quarantined, Their own company proved unbearable
even from behind 10,000-square-feet of living space
have hope, They said
as They tried to save the world with Netflix and food delivery
wearing jammies in Their suburban and gentrified prisons

there were Others, too, impacted by the Pandemic
but since they’d been practicing for—or forced into
lifelong social distancing
the bougie-panic seemed out of touch with the Others’ reality
wash our hands? some of us don’t even have running water
the airlines might shut down? and I was really looking forward to that Fiji trip 
once my ungodly student loan bill was paid off
the virus restricts breathing? it’s killing folks? what—
police, oil companies, and Republican health care policies are taking a break?

the Others weren’t being glib
the Others cared—the Others knew better than anyone 
the disposability of life for those considered “at-risk” 
with or without a virus
the virus represented just another uncontrollable agent of Death 
waiting to meet the Others 
for a chance encounter on the subway, or on a sidewalk, or in a grocery store
the Others still had all the “ism”s and “phobia”s and knees pressing down upon them 
what the fuck was a 20-second song really gonna do, anyway

the Earth changed, as it’s wont to do
things that once seemed untouchable
professional sports, school calendars, Tax Day
police, prisons
suddenly had their arbitrary natures exposed
pushing everyone to adapt and innovate—or be rendered obsolete
and those who had been Othered their entire existence 
found themselves capable of weathering 
panic-induced storms of empty shelves and isolation
the Others took charge and detonated long-buried but oft-maintained 
weapons of mass creation
mutual aid-based survival was in their genetic code
or at least in their coping strategies
the Ancestors of the Others had experienced the plural of apocalypse
yes, the Others knew the destructive power of a well-aimed germ
but also knew the ceremony secrets of washing away toxins
knew community power could bridge any divide
knew medicine isn’t only what a doctor prescribes 
but also what grows from the ground 
or from a laugh 
or from a social distance powwow

the pyrophytic Earth that bloomed from the Pandemic fires
flourished through love and selflessness
They thought germs would break the Others
but collaborative ceremonial art became the key 
to open the door to the Other side of this latest apocalypse
eventually, lost lands and languages were reclaimed
non-human relatives were returned to their rightful place of honor
and the colonial endeavors that once extracted 
the essence of humanity with every dollar earned
were dismantled
small communities of care emerged from the mega-industries
and those with feminine energies gifted the world with leadership
that transcended privilege and inequity
wellbeing spread like a virus
caught and held up like the sun
encircling the Earth with a corona of possibility

Taté Walker is Mniconjou Lakota and a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. They are an award-winning Two Spirit storyteller for outlets like The Nation, Everyday Feminism,  and Indian Country Today. Their work also appears in FIERCE: Essays by and About Dauntless Women (Nauset Press, 2018), and their first full-length book, Thunder Thighs & Trickster Vibes, is forthcoming from Mango Publishing. Taté uses their 15+ years of experience working for daily newspapers, social justice organizations, and tribal education systems to organize students and professionals around issues of critical cultural competency, anti-racism/anti-bias, and inclusive community building. Learn more at www.jtatewalker.com