Tommy Pico: from Nature Poem

Like poison oak or the Left Eye part in “Waterfalls”
you become a little bit of everything you brush
against. Today I am a handful of raisins and abt 15 ppl on the water taxi.

When my dad texts me two cousins dead this week, one 26 the other
30, what I’m really trying to understand is what trainers @ the gym
mean when they say “engage” in the phrase “engage your core”
also “core

restless terms batted back and forth.

Rest is a sign of necrosis. Life is a cycle of jobs. The biosphere is alive
with menthol smoke and my unchecked voicemails. I, for one, used to
believe in God
and comment boards

I wd say how far I am from my mountains, tell you why I carry
Kumeyaay basket designs on my body, or how freakishly routine it is to
hear someone died

but I don’t want to be an identity or a belief or a feedbag. I wanna b
me. I want to open my arms like winning a foot race and keep my
stories to myself, I tell my audience.

Grief is sneaking cigs from the styrofoam cups on the tables next to the
creamers and plates of Mary’s pineapple upside-down cake, running off to
the playground behind the schoolroom trailers to (try and) smoke them

We were supposed to grow old together, hold down food, run for cover,
give birth.

Body the job
was to keep breathing.

[EXCERPT p.30-31]


Tommy “Teebs” Pico is the author of Nature Poem (Tin House Books, 2017), IRL (Birds LLC, 2016), and the zine series Hey, Teebs. He was the founder and editor in chief of birdsong,
 an antiracist/queer-positive collective, small press, and zine that published art and writing from 2008–2013. He was a Queer/Art/Mentors inaugural fellow, 2013 Lambda Literary fellow in poetry, and a 2016 Tin House summer poetry scholar. Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives in Brooklyn where he co-curates the reading series Poets With Attitude (PWA) with Morgan Parker, co-hosts the podcast Food 4 Thot, and is a contributing editor at Literary Hub.

Author: Jake Byrne

Poetry editor.