Batesian Mimicry

I learned to shape my lips from men who peaked
      a decade before I came into this world,
all of us screaming. The King of Cool

      taught me English himself. He told me
to mambo myself into high Holy Cowness.
      Ol’ Blue Eyes sang me to sleep every night.

Harry Belafonte would wake me up.


Here’s the stream. Here’s the trout.
      Now jump.


Myths say I listened to only country and rap until the
      tender age of kindergarten. Sometimes I find
myself nodding along to 50 Cent and I don’t even know
      where it came from. Lots of memories live behind
my eyes like that. Hazy like that. Bruising like that.
      Actually my mother taught me to talk. We’re in the ripe
business of fakery. Sometimes I sound like Dolly.


Here’s the old summer thunderstorm.
      Now jump in the river with your plugged nose
and wait for cantaloupe season.
      If it’s a no-show, try something else.


Try creativity for once. I’m sorry. I forgot my place.
      I don’t know any other way to speak. On paper, the ants
shouting English can’t rearrange themselves into a spikier
      language. I am Michael Bublé, if he was hot and brown.

Americana found its mouthpiece when I was smaller
      than I am now. Hey mambo, are you listening to me?


Here’s the ocean. Here’s the salt.
      Now jump.

Salonee Verma is a Jharkhandi-American writer, student, and the co-founder of antinarrative (@antinarrativeZ), a collaborative zine. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Asian American Writers' Workshop, Gasher Press, Shenandoah, Backslash Lit, VIBE, and more. He has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net, as well as the American Voices Award.