AUTOMATION by April Gibson

AUTOMATION by April Gibson (2015)


Emerging Poets & Writers Series

AUTOMATION is a mother’s testimony. We play fly on the bedroom, bathroom, and hospital walls, as the speaker in these poems laments the body and soul bruising burdens of motherhood. These poems are unafraid and the gut churning visceral descriptions are without warning. We find ourselves scratching for survival when unexpected disasters try breaking us. And just when we are too orphaned to recover, Gibson’s songs provide a sanctified redemption, and in that moment we are remade. Anchored to the shoulders of Gwendolyn Brooks, AUTOMATION is the remaking of the body, spirit, and young mother’s narrative. It is the lexicon of South and Westside Chicago told through shamanistic wisdom. It reminds that there is no greater sacrifice than the one our preservation depends on. April Gibson is amongst the exciting young voices in American poetry.

Derrick Harriell, author of Cotton and Ropes


I think the bed has plastic over the mattress, not sure
but it is small and uncomfortable

there are three rooms and at first, six girls
they put me with the other black girl in a small room

left side of the hall, chilly at night with the smallest closet
not as bright as the other two rooms

the sun hides from this side of a house that used to be a hospital
I read that somewhere in a brochure

there are alarms on our windows as if stick figures harboring
humanity will escape rectangles and scale the brick

using a pair of those cheap donated sheets, or maybe we will sew
all the towels together unraveling their obediently folded positions

rolled the same each time no creases showing on top
except we cannot sew, cook, clean, do anything deemed good and right

we can only be dishonored girl bodies, hostage in a second floor haven
funded by the good lord and his saints

where we make goulash and buckeyes, hot dishes from scratch
activities include grocery shopping, special functions at the local church

arriving in a thirteen passenger van like a small band of scarlet whores
with madam missionary at our sides

we make phone calls on weekends, all mail is prescreened
our love letters tossed away, live visits rare and watched closely

twice in one-hundred-twenty-days, my family remembers I am not home
they stayed for dinner, they took a photo, I wore my hair back

the littlest brother touched my swelling belly, they drove off
left me once again with the midwife minister madwoman mother hen

beneath us listening checking for swiftness in twelve steps
she is with us on two when the first baby dies…

April Gibson is a poet and essayist. Her work has appeared in Pluck!, Naugatuck River Review, As/Us, Tidal Basin Review, Literary Mama and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Chicago State University. April was selected for the Loft Literary Center’s 2014 Mentor Series Award in Poetry. She resides in the Twin Cities with her two sons, though Chicago is where her heart lives.

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