We’re thrilled to present our sixth title of 2022: Erica Charis-Molling’s How We Burn is Number 26 in the Robin Becker Series.
Publication: April 30, 2022 [100 copies]
Erica Charis-Molling is a a lesbian poet, educator, and librarian. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and published in the 2021 Orison anthology. A Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow, she received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. She currently serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief of Solstice Literary Magazine and lives in western Massachusetts with her wife, daughter, and fur babies.
To Billy Porter, in his tuxedo gown, for such a time as the 91st Academy Awards
Who understands how a black body floats, fashioned free? Who
knows the way velvet can hold a black man that can’t help
but glow, better than the red velvet at your feet? This carpet
that knows a monarch by his bearing. How many steps did it take
you to come home to this black gown and ball-tie? Tonight you
have a kingdom, your power and glory shine in every fiber. Be-
come each queer question draped in our deepest closets. Answer
to no one but the black boys trembling inside. Let them hear
your voice rattle the extravagant walls of the house Hector Valle built,
royal abuelo of underground ballroom. You know who you are, what
role you’ve dressed for. You ask: what does it mean to man up
for this, man enough to wear what you were told would ruin
such star-studded aspirations as yours? Which clothes make
a man and which make him enslaved? The cameras flash and each
time you dare them to look away. You’re exposed in your radiant dark
as you meet every open aperture that will hold you. We watch as
this picture develops, all its possibilities forming before our eyes.