Andrew E. Colarusso

Airplane Mode

He chose the wrong people
                                                 to make God*

a secret-                      -smoking a cigarette
followed me all day-                   to remind

I m lactose intolerant-                   so often
do I forget                                that we left

to fight               for the right to have it all
for the right to ask-     -before lines crosst

where does the world end-                 -and
where was your temple                    begun

and ask again    where does the world end
and                               -your temple begin

and again-            -why did the world end
when                           -your temple began

and ask again-            -why end the world
where-                        -your temple begins
and again-

*Kamau Brathwaite on Caliban

sunclade and fallen

you re sick I think    -then start to get hard
the whites                  -on the stovetop fire

of your eyes                bloodshot and puffy
from nights fallen asleep-    with the glow

melanopic yellow-                   -of an apple
product on your face-      -so you ve come

to expect that light-     -from who so nears
in the same but other quiet       your sleep

elsewhere-                       around the world
people                      -shoulder to shoulder

are shouting get-                      -your hand
out of my pocket and-         -farther down

you alone prosper          -in the possibility
in the fruit of your fantasy            holding

closer                                     to your chest
the thumbelina doll              -your mother

wanted but never held                         -for
more than                                   a moment

clutching herself      -like a shadow presst
to the wall                             praying for it

not to be taken-              -until she s taken
no longer                       -by the possibility                      

that              -now and everyday hereafter

you re an accident-     -leaning half asleep
on every emergency exit  and every night

light                                   feels to you like
                                the holy roman empire

Author Statement

Funny how one’s being in the Sunken Place has entered the lexicon following Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017). These poems were written well before the platonic arrivant of the film’s now famous phrase. In fact, the italicized language is borrowed from the great poet of The Arrivants: A New World TrilogyHe chose the wrong people to make God, is how Kamau Brathwaite described Shakespeare’s Caliban in his 1982 lectures at the Centre for Commonwealth Literature and Research in Mysore, India: “…what happened to Caliban in The Tempest was that his alliances were laughable, his alliances were fatal, his alliances were ridiculous. He chose the wrong people to make God…

Clearly Caliban was in the Sunken Place, conditioned to fear a kind of false magic (not the magic of his mother, Sycorax). He chose the wrong people to make God. It’s a line that haunts me. Brathwaite is asking me to consider the ways in which I’m complicit with my oppressor, asking me to consider how I’ve allowed myself to become captive. Sometimes you need to put the whole shit on hold, put the whole world in airplane mode. Get free.

Andrew E. Colarusso was born and raised in Brooklyn. He is assistant professor of literary arts at Brown University and editor-in-chief of the Broome Street