By Shakeema Smalls

we discuss feathers with bald-headed parrots
dueling marionettes threading a baby-nation
across killing fields
new mascots for airline photos
and highway drive bys

the only time we quiet is when we run out
of breathing
space. the only time we move is when
broken up.

of course, the someone who mentioned fires
was the same perpetrator of the
sunburn thesis: to hold your nose when too-
tender. to bait the dead skin & pray
raw meat don’t hemorrhage
we all love our visions & our dying bodies
we all stand at the foot of the cliff like
love your country, be that as it may falter

& every fucking thing is burning, but
we all shiver in the fire.
& we close our bodies with tendrils of earth
harrowing rock & labor
peddling 6 ways to reversal.

past tense
By Shakeema Smalls

no need for magic when one has a packing slip of absolutions. / an encounter with a hung jury & a book deal. internet babalawos writing back to their 97 desktops / words of egungun gone hoarse / speech resurrection / like what negroes do when we off ourselves with kind, white hands & are asked for forgiveness / with the same mouths that piss unconscionable agua de flor / growing deeper the bass of every black voice / drowning in unfaithful ending / becoming terror & mythos / become folded in terror & mythos / white terror / & mythos / magic // white / magic // terror.

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Shakeema Smalls is a writer from Georgetown, SC by way of Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in publications including Tidal Basin Review, Kweli Journal, The Fem, Blackberry: A Magazine, The Feminist Wire and Free Black Space.