Omotara James

In the evening, I remind Bruce
to shut the door to the closet,
because the kitten already knows

a door is a wall you cannot climb—
you must walk through.

I promised Jennifer
I was over you,
then logged into

your Instagram,
counted backwards
to the last photo of us

trying on dresses
like I used to
with my mother

who promised to tell the truth,
especially when it wasn’t pretty.
One day, I remember

leaving the mall
with a bag full of bras
and grabbing her

hand on the escalator,
resting my head on her shoulder.
I was ten

when she pulled away
saying, people will

around 4 AM
my full stomach

growls like the kitten
paws at the door
she can’t claw through—

in every house
a room
for the unknown.

Rasaq Malik

In another world I want to be a father without
passing through the eternal insanity of mourning
my children, without experiencing the ritual
of watching my children return home as bodies
folded like a prayer mat, without spending my
nights telling them the stories of a hometown
where natives become aliens searching for shelter. I want my children to spread a mat
outside my house and play without the walls
of houses ripped by rifles. I want to watch my children
grow to recite the name of their homeland like Lord’s
Prayer, to frolic in the streets without being hunted like
animals in the bush, without being mobbed to death.
In another world I want my children to tame grasshoppers
in the field, to play with their dolls in the living room,
to inhale the fragrance of flowers waving as wind blows,
to see the birds measure the sky with their wings.



Alexis Teyie

The night you leave, the sky breaks out
in stars. They burn like open sores.
The acacia, scarred from private wars,
still has leaves.
I am not radical in my sorrow.
What has come before,
that which has been handed down—
these are my only methods.
I feel what I feel should be felt.
I say nothing new, nothing different.
My concerns are as they were before:
is the tea too cold to drink?

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