3 Poems by Kemi Alabi

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Depressed Black Queer #269 vs. The Body


Your body is the inside of the nearest man’s fist.
Walk to the store and back without disappearing.
Pick two:
hoop, leash, whip.
When someone bumps into you, roll the die.
Even, apologize. Odd, apologize.
Pick one:
circus, zoo, parade.
Pick two:
missing, gutted, stuffed.
Your voice is a sidewalk crack, keeper of the mother spine.
Speak, and it breaks.
Scream, and poof,
Pick one:
pass, pass.
Pick two:
pass, pass.
Winner takes
To start:


Depressed Black Queer #269 vs. The Whip

Bury me with you, master.
Coil me through you slit to slit,

toes splitting teeth, thighs a tongue,
head hip deep, sweet godrest.

But master, those hands —
a gray soil binging seed;

a field of oil black plums
writhing, worms for pits.

Give me purple bloat & burst,
sticky peel & maggot rain,

whole palm sprinting free just
to rot around my throat —

I’m made to be touched
this way,

one with the terror grip,
a once dead thing

cracked alive.


Depressed Black Queer #269 vs. The Ledge

O taxi glass, o broken fall, be soprano, be alto. Give me see sharp, give me doh doh doh, give mi fa so? O gravity, slip soft. Lay with this sorry child before they soulsplint and ugly up this here garden. O slurred night, be witness, be whole sky peopled, sagging, buttons gaped and threatening pop! O blanket tent stonebones, be a ledger. (How much blood does this sorry child owe? Make it twenty-eight cavitied teeth, twelve still attached to gum? Half a spine and nineteen fistsful of salt?) Tailored crew cut 3L be a so? Euro backpack gap year, be a snapchat ohmygoding. Popcorn passing crowd, with your one long pointed finger, be strangers still. Shivers and splints, o gaping, mouthless skies, be siblings now. O weave, dread, and head wrap, be a praise twerk smudging. O coven, keep this child’s eyes in a jar. Stuff pillows with their kinks. Make soaps from their cheeks. O coven, fry their brains in butter and sage, grease your scalps, then eat. Your fingernails will spike long as sugarcane. Your skin will glow garnet and gold. Dig a garden, each eyelash seed. Watch the medicine grow.

Kemi Alabi is a Black queerdo from and for the future. Their poetry and essays appear in The Guardian, The Toast, Kweli Journal, Apogee Journal, Winter Tangerine and elsewhere. Based in Oakland, CA, they coordinate Echoing Ida, a Forward Together community of Black women and nonbinary writers. Watch them lurk @kemiaalabi