two poems

by Taylor Byas

Club Anthem | To You and Your Boys Watching Me

Song says I put my hand upon your hip,
says when I dip, you dip, we dip but I

don’t know you like that. You detour to the bar
through this ungodly gulch, bodies in cyclone-

swirl, and your fingers groping blind. You slide
behind me, your excuse me drowned by the DJ’s

instructions—drop it low y’all, touch the flo’.
I’m twerking, throwing my weight to the beat until

your denimed crotch abrades my backside, then
pressure. A squeeze, you snaking your hips against

the rising hem of my bodycon dress. The fake
surrender always gets me, open-palmed

and wide-eyed. My bad, my bad. Boy, gone somewhere.
At the bar, you order a double Jack and Coke

and return to the pack, your boys a cluster of button-
down shirts, Figaro chains, the chewed-down straws

in your drinks stiletto-sharp, scratching your pink
and thirsty tongues. And you watch me, plot a new

route to my bounce, my shake, the pendulum-knock
of your eyes a twin to the rhythm of my ass.

Squeeze by me one more time. I dare you to.



My first words were bodies
sleep-burdened, stretching
themselves to whistles,

my “th” sounds pulsing
my top lip through the breach.
And nothing pornographic

about the tongue’s peep
show, the cleavage of the pink
bosom. I avoided “thank

you”s out of grace. I kept
the faces of my classmates
dry with my silence, kissed

the boy in fourth grade close-
mouthed although he tried
to work my lips apart with

his own. In school pictures,
the gap a window to the uvula,
a black door through which

a wet hush escaped in comfort,
among friends. Then the flagrant
sputter met with recoil,

then laughter, recoil again
when I joined. In fifth grade
a girl smiled with an identical

gap, the melon-arc of her mouth
falling like apples into my dreams.
Why you don’t smile much?

she said on the playground.
You got a pretty smile. She made
me her mirror, both our curved

mouths eccentric pianos, and our gaps
some sort of emdashes—pushing
apart, pulling together at once.

Taylor Byas is a 24 year old Chicago native currently living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a second year PhD student and Yates scholar at the University of Cincinnati. Her work appears or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, Jellyfish Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Another Chicago Magazine, and others.


Artwork by: Shadow Walker