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Kemi Alabi


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.

Her hair?

(Nah not the snakes

not the god mane not the lust sunk fangs—)

the December field

the driest ground fit to feed

no one

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.

She wakes.

Alabi, Kemi - Headshot.jpg

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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