How Gasoline Heart was Born

Shannon Barber
Nov 8, 2018 · 2 min read

Titties out for Poetry.

“Everybody know-”

I close my eyes and think about standing at the bus stop, trying not to drop it low, writing poems on my phone.

“I’m a motha fuckin monster.”- Kanye, Monster

I tapped the poems into my notepad app, muttering along with Kanye, sometimes in the dark I’d stand under the streetlight spitting Nicki’s verse to myself. I wrote poems I wanted to read to Mykki Blanco, or I wanted them to be whispered in my ear by Saul Williams.

“I’m fucked up. I know that. I need help. I’m so sad”- Mykki Blanco. Loner

I wasn’t trying to write a legit chapbook. I had zero belief that I would ever actually do that, so I just wrote the poems.

“Freeze without an answer Free from all the shame”- Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Omar Rodríguez-López. The Mars Volta The Widow

It was the first time in many years I very earnestly wrote poems for myself. I wrote out of my body, my pain and exhaustion and anxiety. I wrote into my body, booty bouncing on the two and the four, my jiggly ass, how I can’t twerk but I can make my thighs clap.

“Run up motherfucker, get shot”- Will Putney, Vincent Price, Ernie C.& Ice-T. Body Count, Talk Shit, Get Shot

I wrote poems that I knew wouldn’t be touched by most poetry magazines. That, would not make me a pobiz darling, that spoke to my relationship with words and genders and everything. I wrote poems to bust it wide open, wrap myself in secrecy, expose my own secrets. I wrote like I was bleeding.

“My pussy glitter as gold”- Cardi B. Bodak Yellow

I let go of advice that said to be universal. To court Whiteness and cisness and heteronormativity. I wrote my blood the way I hear it in my ears when I’m too afraid to live.

Occasionally, other poets ask me how I got a chapbook published.

I sang it.

I twerked it.

I wept it.

I pomed.

I sweated.

I stopped giving a fuck about the rejections and the Whiteness and the pressure to bow to white broets and shitty conceptualists. I gave them up. I threw them out.

Fuck them.

Fuck me too for trying so hard for so long.

I just let it out.

And Gasoline Heart was born.

And I am grateful to Elizabeth Treadwell for working with me and helping me make my tiny book. See and get it here.

The incomplete playlist.

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