Dustin Brookshire & Diamond Forde

Dustin Wants To Write Another Poem With Diamond
           Inspired by “Nicole Wants to Write a Poem with Maureen”

Dustin wants Diamond to know that he’s reflective today. Dolly dropped a cover of 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up?,” and he’s been transported back to high school when he watched MTV music videos, and he would scream at the top of his lungs, What’s going on? Dustin also realizes missing high school is for straight people. Dustin asks, Diamond, are you reflecting on anything this morning?

Monsters, Diamond thinks: the monsters we make: the monsters we become: the monsters we run from—which is to say: high school: corral of monsters: monstrous growth of teenagers: sweat-sweet: allium stink of boys skirting the halls—the monsters memory makes of those years: an ache in Diamond’s pumping knees—

Dustin befriended the girls that dated monsters in high schools– you know those monsters that sling fists and insults with the ease they toss a football in their backyards. (Both bring them such joy!) The girlfriends kept their men from calling him queer/faggot/sissy–kept fists from his face. His first taste of politics, even though a queer in high school already knows how to survive.

Diamond and Dustin’s claws sharp, sparkling like gemstones. But Diamond wants to be stronger: strong enough to heave the anchor-heavy language in her throat. To Diamond, school is unlearning the sharp edged quiet razored in her chest, and, maybe you can hear it, Dustin, this metal collection clanking: sometimes a mother can be the greatest monster.

Dustin wrote it before in a poem, but this poem wants him to write it again. Marilyn once told Dustin that poets always blame their mothers in their poems. Goddamnit. Mothers can be monsters worse than the ones children are warned about that lurk in neighborhoods offering them candy. Monsters always have superpowers, and Dustin’s mother monster had the power of manipulation. He learned from the best/worst. Dustin is aware he’s his mother’s son. He tries to be careful.

Let Diamond be careful here: once, Diamond’s mentor told her she had problems with control in her poems : he didn’t know about Diamond’s monsters : her father’s second wife : Diamond wanted to love her : wanted her to love Diamond back : that child who knew nothing : but running : Diamond’s mentor didn’t know : her lines were the bars the monster peeked through : poetry—a high school, a corral : a knife-edged glare puncturing through.

Dustin recalls how the truth knife cut when he learned his mother told sister-in-law #2 that her bedridden migraines were a blessing to Dustin, taught him to be self-sufficient. Laundry. Cooking. Waking himself and catching the bus on time. Dustin went to school worrying about his mother, hoping she’d be okay when he’d get home. How the truth knife cut again when in his 30s, he and his brother pieced together a mother’s addiction. Dustin questioned every memory– migraine or pills?

And it’s the questions that stumble inside her : questions Diamond can’t dig up yet : the startling similarities between punctuation and hook : so Diamond calls her mother : asks her where she finds the strength : pray, Momma tells her : she doesn’t know : Oh my God, do I pray—pray every single day : but there are days even language can’t climb : Diamond and Dolly sing : all of these years and my life is still just trying to get up that great big hill of hope.



Dustin Brookshire’s chapbooks include Never Picked First For Playtime (Harbor Editions, 2023), Love Most Of You Too (Harbor Editions, 2021), and To The One Who Raped Me (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2012). He is the co-editor of Let Me Say This: A Dolly Parton Poetry Anthology (Madville Publishing, 2023). Find him online at dustinbrookshire.com

Diamond Forde is the author of Mother Body, a 2022 Kate Tufts Discovery award finalist. Her work has appeared in Poetry Magazine, Ninth Letter, Tupelo Quarterly, and more. You can find out more at her website: www.diamondforde.com