Tiffany Troy ~ Poems



Mama, I don’t pick fights with anyone
but if my telos as Master’s dis­ci­ple is to be a megaphone
for oth­ers, don’t you won­der what happens
if when I speak all I hear are echoes?

In high school, run­ning all the way to Chambers
I laughed as I caught the train back home to Papa.
I did not know behind his smile was rage, which like Isaiah’s
was root­ed in the wrong­ness of the World.

One day, a man with tanned elbows swirled
his knuck­le in my waist through the down jacket.
I looked at the man across from me to say something.
I walked to the oth­er side of the train at Queensboro.

Later, when a man pressed my neck
against the wall, twist­ing my arms like rubber,
I knew bet­ter than to look around for sympathy.
I strug­gled to get loose from his hands.

Slowly I jumped through rocks with scraped knees,
learn­ing why the Spartans left their young out.
When I learned those eyes went after
my dear friend too, I felt relief before rage.

I learned to play with the coins in my hand.
The ene­mies I slay are not drag­ons but scare­crows I burn
for every girl I ever was, every girl who thought
maybe she had wronged the world by existing.


Bagel Oasis


Sunday morn­ings Master and I go to Bagel Oasis in Fresh Meadows. Un san­co­ho de cola grande y un sánd­wich de tuna for lunch from Latin Bakery. Lobster and white-flow­ered gourd with glass noo­dles for din­ner. The day of rest Master pats my head and tells me to sleep tight. Sunday is the day when every­thing seems so pos­si­ble. Oasis means Eden amidst the desert, Bell Boulevard where we get six toasts in one bagel, with two eggs, and bacon and scal­lion cream cheese, enough to car­ry a bull through the day.

Nowadays, when three bak­eries on the same block have closed, I run my fun run in night­mares. Today, though, I rejoice in that gold­en hue in my warm milk tea.

On the way back, Master feeds me at the red lights. I hap­pi­ly dri­ve away from my all-American seden­tary lifestyle, a whole world car­ried behind wheels.


My Mother as Wallpaper


I see your grey hair under­neath dye as clear­ly as our last embrace,
that Sunday after­noon before I left home
that soft­ness of your breasts as you clasped my belly
between your thighs.

I won­der about the next time you’ll visit,
to see me all grown up, your age when you first came.
I won­der if the iPad wall­pa­per of you fry­ing rice with a smile
will be my clear­est image of you.

Can you see me chas­ing my dream
in this hell­ish landscape,
where peo­ple look down on me because I am not—
I cannot—become who they want me to be?

While Red Chopsticks has shut­tered its doors
I revis­it the home of my child­hood, no longer as tall, and grand,
with strands of white hair dri­ven mad
by the ho-hum of faith.

Even then I rec­og­nized the busi­ness­woman inside you
which fore­shad­owed my departure
I knew I would have to leave you for Master
to be loved in a new home away from home.


Spring Rhythm


As I lay with my legs
open with want,

bur­row­ing my head in the nook
of his left shoul­der blade

my nose nuzzling
the soft cot­ton of his white shirt

I thought of how I cov­et touch­ing but loathe
being touched.

I desire to be filled,
but my bod­i­ly needs are bottomless

with desire to be weighed down
by another.

St. Augustine strug­gled with this
as did Buddha and JC and Gandhi.

The body, however,
comes only dur­ing the day,

when what I want
is to stop him at night,

to let out a snort
of delight as I sali­vate and lick my tongue

to lap his face with a thou­sand kisses,
to swal­low him live.


Tiffany Troy is a crit­ic, trans­la­tor, and poet. She is the author of Dominus (BlazeVOX) and the chap­book When Ilium Burns (Bottlecap Press), as well as co-trans­la­tor of Santiago Acosta’s The Coming Desert / El próx­i­mo desier­to (Alliteration Publishing House), in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Acosta and the Women in Translation project at the University of Wisconsin. Her reviews and inter­views are pub­lished in The Adroit Journal, The Cortland Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Laurel Review, EcoTheo Review, Rain Taxi, New World Writing, the Hong Kong Review of Books, and Tupelo Quarterly, where she is Managing Editor.