ISSUE ELEVEN | FALL 2018
Did you hear the one about her teeth?
She was looking down a concrete road
towards a mountain towards the sky
when her teeth turned to pebbles in her mouth
then lead fillings coating the tongue
then ash then smoke then her whole body fire
then a single flame then the flicker gone
then just the road just the mountain just the sky.
Or that one about her cunt?
A green swamp steaming
the scaled and slimed life hissing croaking
a sweat choir gossiping between songs
vines for robes moss for robes river for robes
branches a thick webbed robe
and together they sang hallelujah amen
glory be this rain.
(Nah not the snakes
not the god mane not the lust sunk fangs—)
the December field
the driest ground fit to feed
the cropless year
the cracked plow
the toolshed a splinter heap
the wind a house sweeper
the dishes flung to glittering blades
the apples wallpaper puree
the bark peeled the trees stripped
the sap pummeled out unleashed
The wind a time traveler. June now.
The ground butter and sugar.
The crops strong cane curling up up.
She wakes cackling,
gums a bloody pulse.
She wakes naked,
fist bloomed inside herself.
She wakes bald,
throat packed with coconut oil.
She begs the night to bring a lover, all hands no face.
Night says yes, child, and her skin thickens,
whole body callus, scalp to toe.
She begs the night to bring a balm.
Night says yes, child, and her eyes are open
faucets, room the smallest sea.
She begs the night, let her drown,
let her drown drown drown.
Night says yes, child.
Kemi Alabi's poems and essays live in The BreakBeat Poets Vol 2: Black Girl Magic, Catapult, Apogee Journal, BOAAT, Winter Tangerine, and elsewhere. They manage Echoing Ida, a Forward Together home for Black women and nonbinary writers, and read poems for Muzzle Magazine.
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