(Working on) Cape Verdean Blues by Shauna Barbosa

I can't wait to fully dig into this poetry collection by Shauna Barbosa. I'm a mere 12 pages in but it's already chock full of Évora-infused blues and patterns of migration and divination. Plus it's lauded by Kendrick Lamar: "These words feel like experiences. Some are personal, most are enlightenment, but all connect. Connect on a [...]


Aluminum Ode

You hold everything, number 11 on the periodic table, hasty morning sammies and riceballs. You are the middle school crunch of a finished meal, a finalness wrapped around tomorrow’s plate. You get crushed by some weight, too, by the slightest cramp in a schoolbag and cheese oozes into the lining.   You are not foiled [...]

First (a ghazal)

The second to third to last men will claim first, penetrate a womb, build marble idols, name it first.   Petty rock spirits couldn’t keep Cortés away; The wooden and roped idols touched the Sun first   before a crown-wielding encroachment raped the shores, stabbing tongues with fire speech and crosses first.   Next, they [...]

Shank (heroic couplet)

  I was never made for this, Maryland of ‘87, to sink, to eat into the flesh of committed men. My brother, the knife, is the softer sort made from soft and approved plastic, purposed for dismembering tasteless chicken. But I, a stir in some prison guard’s cup of caffeinated dye, wasn’t meant to be [...]

an engine for madness (a sonnet)

  I’m seventeen and behind the wheel and you’re old, probably heart attack-prone in a thousand-pound machine, broken seals, transmission issues you never got to.   We’re both scared but you drove fear into me with most concern for your car above all: take a right, merge here, stay under twenty. But I’m not inclined [...]

Swimming with the Ocean

  “Swallow the pill & I promise you’ll see.” Frank was keen as he strapped rocket boots to his feet & flew. I think we bought them in a Brooklyn bodega dream, pondering over words & how a blank page is our greatest enemy.   We traded world stickers, see, about how he’s the black [...]