My cover letter states, “I was the first in my family to pursue an undergraduate degree abroad.”

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An anthology of stark poetry burgeoning
from misunderstood manhood
never neglects this categorical truth:

I am a recent college graduate.
A young adult. Young and female.
I like to party, and drink, and have sex.

What have I missed?
Words were never my strong-suit.
But this is not about that.

I just want
to show you
where my body goes at night.

At night her hair chooses to grow six inches longer
and two shades darker, tugging at her skull
with the weight of dead shes.

Dead, she vibrates with glee like the opium-fueled
blood of her ancestors. She tries to stop loving it
and can’t.

She tries to stop loving it and can’t.
That soft animal
inside of her.

That soft animal inside her
sells the pink sound of o
that smells like white light.

The white light betrays her
glistening thigh
against starchy sheets, against hand-printed indica, against abstinence.

Abstinence is
unlike
the tip
of his tongue
feasting
on the salt
that shakes
in the nucleus
of her belly
calling her out
in between
parched licks:
ma, behn, beti.

I just came here to dance.
But he offered me a drink
and the “poet” in me

fell
into the thick
of it.

We grow
accustomed
to the violence.

They say
it is we
who make the choice.

I like
to take space on city buses,
though I sit tight, legs dangling, arms folded.

I like
to run
far from love letters, from vibration, from razors and salt.

I like
the word
afraid over scared.

I like
my body
quenched.

So I drink with my hands cupped tight beneath the faucet,
just like I did at age six, outside the gates
in Delhi, with my eyes shut against the heat,

against mama’s precautions
about drinking from the streets. I drink
so much, so fast,

that the soft liquid
slips between my teeth,
my white t-shirt,

against mama’s precautions
about drinking around men who like to eat. I drink
until every inch of my skin

turns to wrinkle. Too-well hydrated.
Too-ready to fight. And no one stops
dancing. And no one stops me.

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