Michal Jones

In the Wake of a Transfer

for Nia Wilson

MacArthur was not supposed
to be where your
line ended –                                                                          Nia’s gone

You were to return home,
ride ricketing rails deep East,                                                           
transfer your long way Home –                                                        A liquified, river of blood

Graduate with honors, make
beats bend corners hold hands,                                        
be eighteen –                                                                                                                        In supernova brightness

You swallowed ancestral
fear to step onto that platform,                                                                         Cleft carotid rests under tarp
your sisters kept closeby –                

A scream like                                                                                       
that ceaseless, sparking grate                                                           
will spear a humid night –                                                             9-car Dublin/Pleasanton in 2 minutes

And where do you journey now?
And what sense do we make of this?
Where will your mother’s body breathe?                       She illuminates the tunnels

In the morning, when Her train comes, my Nails punch lunes into my palms. In the morning, Black women gather beneath unseen umbrellas – scatter plots along gray platform – lined against the walls. In the morning, Black women downcast. Avert their gazes from oblivion, necks weighted with recall. I boomerang a rage white. Slice a crescent sharp enough to sever. Tongues that utter this:                 senseless.  Senseless.

when children
become ancestors.

& Mama –
                I promise I’m safe on trains here.
& Mama –
                I can hear you cry-singing for me.
& Mama –
                You gonna find your way back to breathing.
& Mama –
                There’s so many colors here.
Mama –
                Colors I don’t even have proper names for.
& Mama –
                We got them dancers out here, too!
& Mama –
                Everyone, everything is conductor.
& Mama –
                Our trains don’t have tracks, just kinda glide like water.
& Mama –
                It’s warm here, warm like light.
& Mama –
                I’m alright, mama. I’m more than alright.


MJ is a poet & parent living in Oakland, CA. Their work is featured or forthcoming at Kissing Dynamite, Rigorous Mag, & Borderlands Texas Poetry Review. They are an Assistant Poetry Editor at Foglifter Press. MJ has received fellowships from the Hurston/Wright Foundation, SF Writers Grotto, VONA, & Kearny Street Workshop. They are currently the Community Engagement Graduate Fellow in the MFA program at Mills College.