Category Archives: Poetry

funeral for my grandmother in which i drink tea for the first time

i sip a chimney of smoke in             spoonfuls bury my feet beneath             glass remember that to burn             incense is to marry our martyrs with             matriarchs my grandmother’s grave melts in             plum wine a tablespoon of jasmine dimpling             over grass you … Continue reading

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the house i will build in a decade

because in / ten years / i will be             twenty-nine and i / don’t wish to grow anything / beyond that /             sallow in me my stomach / my swallow / my esophagus stripped             in two / find me a … Continue reading

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medan half-sunken by dust and sorrow

& grandmother strung by the thread of her qipao outside a church, cotton-chafed and her left shoe             slotted underneath her wrist. a cross left behind by a passing missionary between her             blood-muddied thighs. she didn’t feel my father until he … Continue reading

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To My Future Nephew II

It’s early sunrise when our Volvo finally stops. Out the window, the sky hasn’t yet birthed blue. You’re still asleep, strapped into your leopard- print car seat, head leaning against the strap. When I was nine, ten, eleven, there was … Continue reading

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After the Phone Call I Starve

My limbs feel cold, soggy, like half- raw oats. Grumbles should claw from my stomach, tugging at shirt and skin, but there’s only silence. Her body bled into the ground, I’m told, crumbling like run-over turtle shells. They tell me … Continue reading

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bird’s eye

We are from a time neither of us can remember ageless glory, unspoken delicate steeples folding within Your fingertips write fragments of poetry on my palm a language I have learned over the many days speaking it to you We … Continue reading

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Ocean stories

On the first day of a leap year when our fingers sank into hot sands at the coast, a fisherman was burned at the stake for rocking his boat & paddling it backwards. I begin the day by throwing blueberries … Continue reading

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Come to the waters

a petal opens up into the arms of one april morning. it was my father, calling me to come to the waters to drown in his breath. i forgot to begin this poem with a eulogy, a death song of … Continue reading

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Funeral blues

at his funeral, i invoke a prayer as i pour a bottle of dry gin into the nile—like    memories, like rusty scars peeling off a vintage foot—like tongues, lining       with smoke & whispering piercing tones, i search for the tears … Continue reading

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Dust

a forlorn bird, brown eyes, dark-winged, falls from the sky. whiffs of loss spread across its beak, some of it good. a minute of stillness, & then it dies. my father passes away in the skin of a falcon. once, … Continue reading

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Faraway

(after “Dim” by SYML) Bàámi, forgive me this one last time, for before this letter,   was a lineage wiped out by a             raging storm. before the storm, a troubled ghost, howling in & out of a graveyard & before the ghost, … Continue reading

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My mother washes her grief ashore

a flower grows in a dark room where my father’s body finds a resting place. everything around me is fading & the way to keep a body dry is to set it on fire. i wake up into an empty … Continue reading

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A test for absence using my father & a wild cat as case study

(after Nome Emeka) there is a strange figure limping outside a vacant room: fickle, volatile. ahead, are wild cats [Xx] in motion, huffing & running into each other—behind, are shadows [Yy] that stand in batches; two projections against a rough … Continue reading

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Genesis

(i) I was created from dust            into a garden—tall creatures with brooding eyes. an ancient man with sad gazes stared at me.      he said before my fortune was a bag of grief; sacred things that command the feet            of still men.      once, at night, … Continue reading

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Transition

Once, at night      a nursing mother                                                 breastfeeds her newborn: her hands dissolves into a language & a voice whispers                                                             between her thighs             then she folds back into loneliness as though crawling from mouth to spine.                   every time the sun      breaks                               through the … Continue reading

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A brief history of absence

outside my body, a feral creature screams into the wild             a map leads her astray—a modicum of lips. grief, scattered like remnants of woodsmoke, cast a shadow             against her skin—a short partitioning of silence to burn at night, i must … Continue reading

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Blue Circling to Yellow

Sitting in the August dark, with windows open, listening       to crickets’ departing summer blues shimmering like low firelight & swirling smoke, like an impossible       prayer professed to a vast starless sky to let us stay a bit longer; and, I … Continue reading

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Shatter

Mucky hands unearth treasures stuck, we pluck the ones too heavy to recede— amber pounded matte, cloudy etched headstones, foamy green skeletons ground smooth. Pleasures lobbed from a party boat, or rage splintered into rocks. An octopus of loose ends, … Continue reading

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The Five-Second Rule

Even the smallest child knows— get it before you count to five, and you can eat on as though it never touched the floor. The Journal of Applied Microbiology concludes this adage into lore. To confirm, I run my own … Continue reading

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The Neighbors Upstairs

Every spring the crows give chase, running a brazen hawk from their nest. Cunning birds homesteading high up, in the same spindly fir, dripping sap sticky as sunburn, scrawny branches snarled with dead vines. The wind is taking its damn … Continue reading

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Corporeal

In this place again, the for rent sign in the uterine wall, the timeline realigned for the present, the list of reasons as reminders of why. List of concerns, list of pressing matters, list of choices, list of real or … Continue reading

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The cost of fruit keeps increasing

Examination lights. Examination lights. Guava she would repeat. Mouthed around the intubation tube, eyes looking through me. Through me. Week eight, a thin mixture of calories and for blood. For blood. Fruit hanging down. Hallucinations taste like vampire nurses formula … Continue reading

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Our Bodies Are Shells That Remind Us We Belong to the Ocean

There is a mythology to this accidental lapse in consciousness. She is part of the infinitesimal beyond. Part of this experiment of decaying bodies where the extent of this flesh and lived possibility stretches our bodies across oceans. A virtuous … Continue reading

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The Dance of the Fever Tree

Weather crackles across the willows— a bride in green with weeping hair Guests arrive, lemons and cuckoos baby trees with limbs barely there Blue gums forfeit a debut dance The groom falls ill in a fever tree A matriarch of … Continue reading

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Still High When We Find Out My Father Has Died

We dance down the limbs of Parisian streets into the fountain-night. Shimmy ourselves across cobblestone-gray giggling “husband” and “wife.” Pigeons peck in, to gnaw on our feet, eating our toes like crumbs. Red umbrellas on empty patios sway in a … Continue reading

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