Black Substance
by Ashley Warren

  1. Here's the gist--
  1. There's this stain on your brain
  2. you were born with
  3. that allows you to happily dance.
  1. It instructs your lips to pucker
  2. while you twist your hips and
  3. shuffle your feet the way all
  4. moms do.
  1. It governs all other thoughtless
  2. motion too--
  1. big toothy grins, sleeping frowns, dish-
  2. washing hands, achy bending knees
  1. Substantia Nigra
  1. which, I agree, sounds better in Latin, just like motion
  2. sounds when describing it as dance.
  1. Philosophically, substance is considered
  2. as a continuing whole that survives
  3. the changeability of its properties.
  1. And black is, well, you know--
  1. bullets
  2. beetles
  3. pullus
  4. shadows
  5. your son's wife
  6. heroin
  7. and those birds lying in your lap.
  1. When you had a lot of it
  2. you danced.
  3. When you lost it
  4. your left foot became
  5. a paperweight.
  1. And though lifting it may be
  2. arduous, each step need not
  3. be some swampy coracinus ordeal.
  1. You can now dance without music.
  2. Your body will still float in water.
  3. And there are beaches with black sand
  4. whose rocks still shimmer;
  1. rocks that will never
  2. undergo the absorption of light.
Packingtown Review – Vol.8, Winter 2016/2017

Ashley Warren is a Minnesota native who currently lives in Long Beach, CA. Her poems have appeared in several print and online publications including Convergence Magazine, Hiram Poetry Review, Santa Clara Review, Old Red Kimono, Red River Review, and Roanoke Review.

  1. Lillian Rose King
    The Price of Pietypoetry