Missy Elliot Love Song

by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

first, she lays down the heartbeat
the flat hand on the drum
advancing into the battlecry of love

next comes the handclap
shake the evil spirits from the air,
send them scrambling to their corners,
wave and wiggle and wriggle them
from sticking on our skins

on top of that is the shakera
like a ratchet,
tweaking, tightening, fastening
us to the song

the strain of piano is the rare bird
picking at concrete outside a brooklyn
bodega or the green leaf, lush and veiny
that falls on a chicago project bench, the real
light when most hope is gone, not
sugar saccharine fake sickly sweet stuff

on top of that, is the scratch
lest we forget that we are in mistress
missy’s house that she controls
the time and stop. the love. and stop.
our hearts and stop. what

did the record labels know what
to do with her? put her in shiny
plastic suits and bug-eyed glasses
like a hundred-sided die tumbling
against the rain on her window

an alien cartoon sent to us from the future
to push enough units without tits and
ass under plastic shrinkwrap -

no thighs exposed, she had her divas
for that: aaliyah, tweet, ciara, jazmine sullivan,
some say her girls, these fine little young things,
sexy and rare and strong, she mentored them,
cooed them, coaxed them into melody

i can’t help but find two women tangled in the
pretzel of love in the studio 3 AM laying their hearts down
on the track, crooning and conjuring waveforms for some man
who never was and never will be there.

he just as much an illusion as the booties
backed up in the video.

missy’s hand on her girl’s fit waist, pulling her close
in the booth by the top of her low-rise jeans, the
golden boil of the song welling hot in her girl’s belly
and throat.

i can’t help but imagine two women’s
bodies finding each other
between these sheets of sound

while tom cruise jumps from oprah’s
couch screaming his love for his second
mechanical wife, latifah bashfully answers the
interviewer, saying “set it off” was her favorite
role, progress held by the pristine rings on Ellen
and Portia’s fingers, lindsay lohan’s lesbianism
just a naughty bleached blonde trend following
alcoholism and rehab, katy perry’s exploratory girl-kissing

no match for two women traversing love,
locked in the studio 3 AM, ripping apart
and resurrecting the bones of each song.

Her website www.yellowgurl.com

A request from Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai:

So it’s always been my dream to be on a 30 under 30 list, and time is quickly evaporating, ha! So yes, NOMINATE KELLY FOR ANGRY ASIAN MAN’S 30 UNDER 30 MOST INFLUENTIAL ASIAN AMERICANS. Just send 100 words or less on why you think I should be on his 30 Under 30 List. Details here: http://www.angryasianman.com/2009/03/who-are-30-most-influential-asian.html-YAY!

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