I couldn’t go all day without sharing something with you guys on this religious day. (I don’t care what you say, poetry is a religion and today is something we will celebrate. *shrugs*) Here are some beautiful pieces by some beautiful poets. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! You get it, right? They’re are beautiful!
Thallium by Saeed Jones
If I held out the candle, paraffin burning for him,
then swallowed all the light, if
in the dark, I was a cobra’s tongue,
how could it have been his fault?
Robber baron, unzipped vagabond, he mistook me
for the comfort of a small creek, water crawling along the backs
of rocks, emerald house beside it,
me at the door in nothing
Over wine, I warned him
soft—you can’t sleep here; you won’t
In the snuffed room, my touch serrated
bit of tooth
Even a peacock feather comes to a point.
I was kissing him.
*Originally published in Blackbird*
The Oppression of Venus by Mars by Metta Sáma
Nights are the only times I think of love.
And even then, it’s so very heterosexual, I pretend
to be happy. I sex a man who I can call husband, who names me
after rare shards of glass
held tight in catastrophic dirt. I pretend
I know how to fuck him. How to hold his limp dick in my hand with some emotion
close to eye-candy delight. A hungry look
saving the erection for the greediest mouth.
A boyfriend in my day life once promised that would make him
the happiest man in the world.
And once I pretended I cared enough
to believe him, but his dick would never stay limp long enough.
So at night, when I think of love I have to find a way to save the erection
for the mouth. Because my dream
husband likes it like that, too.
Something about love growing and pulsing. Something
about children and naming them after famous jazz singers, muslims, and animals
in flock. One was Coletrane Akil Murder, but I soon forgot
about breastfeeding it. I had fields of flowers to cultivate,
breads to bake, laundry to plump & fold. I was heterosexual
and gardens were abundant. My husband was never
alone and the diapers were always wet. The sex
was less than remarkable. I had lovers. I was heterosexual. I couldn’t stop
fucking neighborhood women in tall oak trees,
maids and baby sitters. We built a canopy and laid out a huge tub.
I got stuck. I was pregnant again. And my husband wasn’t
the same anymore. This one was a white man who always tied me
by the throat. I said I liked it.
I meant it. Being choked. By a white man. Who was my husband.
Our children’s names were hegemonic. Dominion and Galactic, Hegel and Patience.
Then I woke from one dream and remembered
I was heterosexual. Daily, I chanted:
I am a heterosexual. I have sex with my husband. A white man
who only screws The Blacks.
Until my dream moved us to Cuba. Then he wasn’t my husband
anymore, but some other man who liked his dick limp
during football games. This heterosexuality was ceaseless.
Unsleeping. Unsilent. Under wraps, no? Alive & throbbing.
*Originally published in Drunken Boat*
Home by Warsan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here
*Originally published in Seekers Hub*
Self Portait as Sonoran Desert by Christoper Soto (aka Loma)
She walks across my chest—
dragging her shadow & fraying
[All the edges].
My nipples bloom // into cacti—
Fruit & flower.
She eats // then I do.
—A needle pricks her.
I have only seen this woman // cry once—
Squeezed // like a raincloud.
She cried because // two white men.
[Two white men]
Built a detention center—
From bone & clay.
[The first bone— my clavicle]. The second— her spine.
[As the fence // surrounds her].
She coughs &
Combs // the floor // my chest
Inside the detention center—
[She is named] “immigrant” “illegal.”
She loses 15 pounds &
Mental health & her feet are—
Cracked tiles // dirty dishes.
This border— is not a stitch [where nations meet].
This border is a wound // where nations part.
*Originally published in Vinyl Poetry*
Happy Birthday by David Ishaya Osu
(For Ayodele Olofintuade)
I have stitched
you a wedding posy
with my pen
smooth her over
she will be
for your bed
smokes who skulk
behind green mornings (they want to nest in your quilt)
she will turn
for your rump
against winds aching, creeping
up the stairs
to steal your gold waistlaces
the play will
transpose to a poem
trapping those spectres
in your trawl
*Originally published in The Bombay Review*
Phlebotomy by Rage Hezekiah
The fruit of my inner elbow acquiesces the pin-prick,
surrenders in the latexed palm
of a stranger. Moat gates lift, reveal familiar piping—veins
resembling my mother’s, that climbed the branches
of her wrinkled hand. I used to sit beside her on the couch,
and press my fingertips into tributaries
beneath her skin’s vellum. I’d observe the resilience
plumping the tubes, giving way to delicate pressure.
Today, claret color fills the vials,
I give, knowing it was never mine.
*Originally published in Really System*
Testimony by Paul Tran
I didn’t ask for it.
in the tall grass.
Neither my imagination
nor the wind,
light rippling in the heat.
He had a human face.
But he wasn’t
human. He was
a hunger. Not for me —
for what he could do
to me: shepherd boy
alone in a field of thorns,
tufts of rhododendrons,
the world with its
back turned. He kissed me,
moved his wolf tongue
in and out
of my mouth, a hole
he filled with himself.
Disrobed, he tied
my underwear around my knees,
licked the bottom of my feet.
I didn’t like it.
I didn’t understand
what was happening.
When I said his name,
when I shouted what he was
at the top of my lungs —
he couldn’t keep —
he dragged me by my hair
across the devil’s wilderness.
My back whittled
and threadbare. I wished
my scalp and skull had split,
spilled the contents
of my brain like rind
in a garden of unearthly delights
so I could be dead —
stay dead — and not chase
the impulse to testify
pulsing in my blood.
Cause and effect.
He planted me on a grove
overlooking my village.
He pushed his sex inside
me. The sky hid
behind gathering clouds,
too disgusted to look.
Perhaps it’s a gift
only to feel my body
taken from me.
Perhaps observation’s a lie.
No one believed me
anyway. No one came.
until there was
*Originally published in The Offing*