Online Exclusive

Tears Cycle: Companion Peace

Matter: aki-, olive-, (half-eaten fruits)

slender indianan. not from there, not from here. 
names are strange, names are strangers. We are given 
Names. We give ourselves

In flat bush I discover fruits that are variations of colors
Varieties of sweet flesh with salt, seedings and the sounds
Of the bitten, the sounds of the biters, crinkle yes and when

It’s so sweet, when it’s so bitter, we need the salt
We break into the flesh and tear. 

Definitions: when one door closes, another opens. Akilah’s epigenetic allusion. A family trait, ash above earth, ash below. Her silken tones, a bellow of mother’s loss. Her repeated mewling for a kitten. 


1 for one (et cetera):

An other: mourning

To survive sadly is still. 
At a boat’s bottom, allegedly a boat. 
Allegedly an anchor. Allegations of a law. 
Oh splinters that split us, oh those who spit on our black gaberdine. 
The skin rolls the water off. That is what ash is, actually. 
Accumulation of spittoons and the water’s detritus. 

Hump day is a whale, freer than us even in capture, even in tallow. 
No one said: this isn’t a whale, even as they strung it up to cut its meat. 
No one said: this is something tbd. They said: mammal, leviathan, child of god, named by Adam. 

We got a new name. Something made up. We managed to live. In that hole name. 

Two: Made you look

Is it the same salt? Tear salt at the edge of a blinking eye? 
Wailing salt? Sea salt? Is it the same? 

After the hull, those who staggered out of the pit. Could they see? 
Were they weeping or sweating? Seeping or swatting? Imagine the flies. 
How do flies come out of nothing? Out of fly-free flesh that after mottling becomes full? 
What is that bloat? How did mammy’s feet swell? 

Three: Me, you and we make another

A veiled God can be a veiled threat. Still unseeable, still unassailable. 
If God says slavery is right who is the devil? Who is bedeviled?

The devil knows scripture, the devil knows structure. That’s what the book said. 
I say: what book? Why a book? Where’s the book? Where’s the good? 

Tubman was not a romantic. Angelic yes. Swift sword? Check. What must she
Have seen? One thing about southerners. They weren’t gaslit. Hell, they hadn’t even 
Had electricity in some places. 

Following that star was a bougie aspirational. I want to be middle-class instead of middle
Chattel, free to consume rather than be consumed. Is that evil? Is that gluttony? Slovenly?
Not to be worn to death like a shoe but to fake it ‘till you are made whole? 

What does it mean to rise up when you are placed face down? 

Four: Cross Roads

When your body is only marginalia, what do you have? John’s son, Robert, knew one thing that was his:
It was worth it for exaltation. That’s the legend. We are still talking about him though so I guess…

Did he spit in his hand to shake the devil’s? Is that a thing? Did he knick his finger, how dark was the ooze? Was it full of iron? That deep a written x in the note. That blue note. That royal color, that roly-poly, that rock n roll. Slippin’ in that undertow, what was in the globule of that hand, that made the Devil say: confirmed. 

And don’t we aspire to those depths and heights still? How much heat do we need
To boil mercurochrome? I mean, how angry is the wound? 

Pent Up:

Why do short people have the loudest footfalls? Walking on their heels, the back of the soft shoe is ground to a nub. Rubber taps don’t clack, so extra heavy. The Nicholases didn’t sweat
Even conked out. The cool control to full split downstairs, slide a floor in a white suit with no scuffs. These were our models: pinup Dandridge, Geoffrey Holder our fauna George Carver in that movie, Sammy’s Italianate inflections of Como with Bishop-yiddish. 

The Godfather of Soul had okpwele chains of rhinestones, fell to his knees in spirit, covered as Clark Kent. No one knew how deep the cold sweat went. His face gleamed but his heart kept the trochee, non sequiturs on the one dazzling as the optic nerve. 

Sixth Sense:

Psi is in the edge of the opening. The edge of opining. The hood occluded in the back, up the chamber. A curative: this ‘hood in this chamber. This black hidden is the holistic, the opposite of —

Lucked Up:

Thread bare is a re-tread. A split breastbone equals a rabbit’s foot. A sign for the capturer an omen of the captured. Sometimes a snapshot is just that: impulse, below the skin, a flash shows veins. Fortune is values neutral but we assume good. Prickly skin is the tenderest, the hairs on the back of a neck are always singed. A hot comb, tweezers, a razor. 

The kitchen is where things are cut up, pulled, where things are revealed. Where hot water gets you into hot water. 

Easy Greasy: 

Octagonal and autumnal, a redbone leaf feathers to tarmac, to asphalt. A somersaulting gesticulating man with homemade pants, pathetic patriarchy and rough hewn symbols tries to convince young girl me not to wear makeup as he holds up glossy photos and an English bible. 

Sweetie, sugah, I think. Your hatred makes you look bad, Mr. I have all the answers. Your gay bashing and he-mannish ways, so pathos-ridden. Baby. Black people may have flaws, but we don’t go ‘round unstylish. You truly lost, brother. Sad trio trombone here. Even that boy with the twisted spine on plastic linoleum outside the dirty train, hangs his belt just so, extra leather perfectly positioned in the front, swinging. 

James Brown’s/Al Sharpton’s cold sweat pomade on the edges so the brackish water is controlled, falls to the front of the lobe just so, under track suits where the heat goes through the head. 

Yet, for all your yelling. I miss you when you’re gone. Displaced by earnest food trucks, people walking into your incense holders on the ground while looking at black blank screens. Not heeding the screeding Black. It’s a convention however. Black is infinite. What angled onyx will replace your gossamer shadows? 


I wonder how the blighted big buildings affront God. The stained glass in the worship house is placed to blind you when you look to the most high. An endless oblique makes the God of small things, the small God of things and the congregation is hushed in hallelujahs. Muffled in Amens. Pillowed in pews. If the bended knee doesn’t suffer as much, is it prayer? If you can see the outline of the garnet, are you partial to the draping or nah? 

Gentrifying is land-lubbing. The sky and sea don’t meet. There is no horizon. Just heavy cover with no cloth. A coned sky of interruption, pointedly, bursting, stone. 


The pretense of hope, the aspiration of a high C, the willowy falsetto of Smokey Robinson, El DeBarge. That rough note at the end of Philip Bailey’s “We Write a Song.” Vocal fry the overflowing fat of cheap meat in a pan. My aunt, so country, introduced me to pig feet. I was not accustomed to the slim muscle of knuckle surrounded by so much soft chew.
I couldn’t finish it but I saw the sense of it in greens before I became too precious. 

If I had the years back, I’d reconcile, somehow, my grandmother’s cooking just to have her taste. The way she’d test the iron with the slick of spittle on her index finger. How many sides to a D&D die? The cost of integrating, white fantasy of endless worlds. Not country. But even so, I recall that Gramma introduced me to Hee-Haw and Dolly Parton singing “Here You Come Again.” White and fluffy haired as she could be, blonde and such but the intimacy of integrated southern, rural life. That regionality, that undertone of melange lineage. That was her personal aspect, song, being and bones. In the north, surrounded by bricks and stone and streets that need to tell people when to cross them, there was the real roots, rockabilly Black, too few people to keep the tones distinct. One grabbed all the tambourine hands one could get in the one-room church. The only group indoors for miles. Even Malcolm spent some childhood in the woods. 


A dunk. I did say stop. I was like the light: created by someone Black. I fish upstream, the source of the water. Little roes of wanting. I coulda said. I could say. Everyone agrees that the utterance itself created things. That’s what they say, they who create noting. Eve wanted a little taste? Why not? They’d been to the edges and had seen it all: Why put a do not touch sign if you didn’t want us to look? Us with no kids to warn? The ones we named could chew the leaves that would later adorn us. Why couldn’t the fruit be ours? And like a woman, I shared. I gave. As good as I got.

A Doze:

When he slept, he slept deep during the surgery. The incision and the stem cells, the cloning didn’t take, exactly. I became my own woman. 

We looked down. It wasn’t shame exactly, it was that we paid attention. The jokes about the belly buttons. Actually, we both had holes. That’s how he saw into our juicy hearts, our red lungs, our porous bones that they claim are full of venom but he didn’t need poison, just a sibilant and a smirk. The vibration made my arms go out to steady myself. While they were stretched to the length of my height, I figure: why not pick? 

Before we were like brother and sister almost. We had no need to desire. But once you hide something, all the other sleeping things wait under cover. Then I paid with pain, I paid with blood. He didn’t but he knew too. Then I realized what a marriage could be. Awakened. Unaspirated yet heard: i.e.: a gasp. 

Odd, Primed and Wiser:

What’s your real age? Is is ambered in the name of a friend? Do you see yourself as you saw yourself with her? Is she still standing there, looking cute, at the jook joint sold just before COVID? That’s the kind of black magic I want. The predictive type, the font of wisdom before the shit goes down. Can one ever be prepped? 

Is a mole a tell or does it mark beauty? What if you have a lot? If you stop getting your hair did in your 20s is it disheveled in your 60s? Iono. Do you look back or do you look forward to it? Are you in denial? Did she really pass on or is she still with you and if so, who/what is she waiting for? 

Whistling past the grave I think of the builders: Frank Wright’s monumentalism was mainly between ages 75 and 90 but White, slender, rich and tall adds a few years of life and sharpness sometimes. The clarity of lines and place help. 

We don’t age as much but our Black organs twist, wringing disappointment. Should I feel joy sans Jesus? If we didn’t have hope would we have made it, turned the world on its axis? Did the Igbo who landed turn around or fly? What’s by and by mean? What’s bye and by? 


Spectre speculation:

What would the convo be? Recent miasmas in body and spirit and body politic. Sometimes I wish I drank, just zoned, buzzed, blacked. We’d get tipped and ironic. If she didn’t get sidelined by the virus, if she was of her right mind, if I didn’t have to jog her memory with fruitcake and ambiguous jokes. Our last night we saw a bit of Alex Jeopardy on the too-wide tv. TV networks, how quaint. Neural independence, how ancient. Spike-free drinks, how feminist. 

Would we be caught dead in a dress? She wore buckled boots associated with butchness. Would her voice still be soft or would it be fried at the edges? Would we mutually agree to a second big chop, finally letting go of the Black lady length pride? Would she buzz down to the lowest clipper, too low to comb? Maybe Dora Milaje? She’d be so hot. She had the head for it. 

Sketching Utopia:

Glory blazed in an unseeable outline. Blindly illuminate. I wish I knew what it’d be like to be free. Nina Simone’s afrofuturist speculates the right question. What’s the feel? Water rolls along the upper dermis until it’s reabsorbed in another pore. That slow lessening to the pitch. Is it like that? So subtle you forget? 

The tear with the first foray of snot, pre-white cells, transluce, a closer consistency. The tongue habitually tastes anything near. As the trickle hits the sides, the condensation on teeth, a darting blade tastes three kinds of pre-evaporate. Does it taste like that?
Is it the same liquidity as lubricant, as the results of? The coating of sperm, vulva cloaks that run? What is pulled from a raisin in the sun? That contraction? Any of them? Is that the feel? 

African-American Actuarially: 

The book of Numbers goes into painstaking detail. Lots of busywork. More angel then God, I’d think. Why would He be so retentive about prayer, worshippers, particular amounts of cows and the scent of ever after? Enforcers? That’s for the middle “men.” Angles are smoothed, angels are smooth. Lower strata take account, report. 

Fear. The whole truth and nothing but. One thing about Wakanda they didn’t do? Slice up girls. It’s true. The Dora Milaje are intact. Bald head blade-free beings. And, truth be told, I think that’s the real difference between the Killer and the King. Death by thousands of cuts. To prove what? God’s intimacy with man? I don’t want to be all Sharon Olds and the Pope about it but those mythic Africans could fly, were/are whole. Boys and girls the same. Flounce and pain the same. Free fierce and confident. 

Black men randomly dying of illness. This is how you know, she’d say: Conspiracy theories are owned by wyipipo: the erasing of Black paranoia. Dem Black men following the bread crumbs of racist Nirvana, believing: if we hurt Black girls enough maybe we can be men (like them). Dem Insane Negresses thinking kanoodling is like Ambi or some shit, like some de-circumferenced follicles, like downy pubicity. Trick, you trippin’. There was never such a thing as a safe, house-cullid girl. Rape is not qualified by location, dumb dumb. Shock to the system is inaudible. Ask Carter G. Woodson. You can ask Jaqui Woodson too. They try to put words to it: free/not free, pleasure/what the reverse means. 

Double Spheres of Consciousness:

Is it crazed to think in two ways? Is simultaneity schizophrenia? Can we think Black outnumbered? Outgunned? Can Malcolm and Martin click? Washington Carver/B.T. Washington and Dubois? Self-reliance and self-aggrandizement? Buffalo soldiers and Native ancestry? The enslaved and the integrated politician? The radical who’s mid-management? The frontier and the cursive font? The black ink and the chalkboard? The paranoia and the ‘Gram account? The aspirational and the hermetic seal? The green-eyed monster and the Black Panther Party? The mining white crazies’ comments and the “fuck all y’all?” The head wrap enveloping the perm? Sesame Street and the Moynihan report? Our firsts and the absorption of Black particularity? Grady and George Jefferson? Black love and the White mate? Black hate and the Black mate? Black kids and the prestige of complexion swatches? 3c waves and ‘fro, or even the dread? Euro synth pop Grace hula hooping with strictly African angularity? Samedi having a whole white side? Voodoo dolls being made up by Hollywood? Fear of Black people after displacing, dismembering and disturbing us? Payback being an actual bitch? The Dogon dog and the hidden pup do not fuck around. Y’all see that green ZTF? Watch hands, cupped, coppered Ra’s. Catch deese. The world goes Black. 

The Cogno Tough Body of Such:

No brain matter what. The squib and squabble are detritus, right? Black enough, negative confirmations: to not be seen as you, to not be reduced irrespective of features, to not wish for aquiline, to not lose dance skills, to not wish to be back flat, to not wish to be tight lipped, to not wish to be translucent, to not wish for the culture, to not wish to be savvy, to not wish to be united, to not wish to see oneself in other languages, to not wish for fake or real kente cloth flourishes, to not wish for mud cloth hats with cowrie shell wedding fans, to not wish for the second line, to not wish for du-rag waves, to not wish for pomade and Jamaican castor oil, to not get onomotopoeisis of Betty Carter and Babs Gonzales (not to comprehend, not to like, but to get), not to accept the musk oil with the Bible sold by the same person of religious and gender neutral outfits (robes), not to get the holy ghost Blackly and Naomi master strut of White clothes, not to accept ALT’s caftans as of Geoffrey Holder descent, not to be proud of Michelle’s musculature of Black woman tough elegance, to not really know what “not the one” means, the unpredictability of Black rage, to not know that Bill Kunstler kept it from a Hughesian “explosion.” To not be generous with outsiders who mean it. To not know who watches enough BET, Tyler P. to fake “hangin’ out.” To not know the virtual global Black and the particulates. To not know the conversation between the spheres, to not know when the harmony is disrupted by the sliver, the silver bullet of lies. To not know, in fearful rejection of the Blackness of being, what you are losing. 


Always out front with our curvilinear. Abstract to Picasso, not to us. An extension of being, ontologically and spatially. Black women in time are aggregators, past present future often: lips, eyes, brain, hair, behind. Not to be crude, we take chances, changes whenever we walk down the street, talk back. What about the silence we endure, the risk we take not to say but be active in doing? Extending ourselves to others. Can we de-Miss Anne/de-Karen through love, through desire? Femme our way through? Bitch/Butch our aspect? We have always been the alpha and omega of xx. We take our chances with our caught hands. Oh to sip life across the boards. 

Same One to Watch Over:

To use to tongue to tell the truth. That sound, the geometry. O liquid shape. Blade, dorsal, fin. The same as a spade’s, maybe. Vulva/vellum. Guided lickspittle. 
Keep on Pushin’

Is it the hip that equates dance with rutting? Abstract akimbo-ing in amber with knuckled amber. Pharrell a auditory doppleganger sans beret, Garvey: tech. No color. No shade neither. Our dead died for us to choose all the roads and still they died for us to luxuriate in deep peat without shame of soil hues. The deep mother, deep skin color, from which She strews every type of rock and ingot. In the fantasia, is there room for us? Isn’t our mother’s land where our mother’s heart is? That’s everywhere. There and here. She keeps birthing. The first helix is in coiled coif. Under it, the blood red, the insult, then tensile strength of tense outrage. Kill the Black — kill the mother, Sig(il), and you die too — father? He’s out always looking to off, offer. 
Mama don’t die, stay dead. She always comes back for her, baby. 

Someone’s Grand Baby: Keep on Pushin’:

How do you broach the subjects? The complex of tradition and new. Is vegan white? What about green seasoning? Being too old to change is legit reason. Yet she looks with such high hopes for us. Different and upright. Remind us what we did to them when they come for us. Grandmas didn’t cuss. We Black ladies ain’t like what they say. But frilly, tomboy or no, quiet as it’s kept, mess w them back home country girls, they find your cracka ass in the woods, nearly beat to death and no one seen them spooks.

Elegant aspirate, Angela’s clavicle, Angela’s short hair. Angela never quite gave up on Tina, keeps it tight. How you think they urban chillun’ keep skin so vaseline smooth? Even the skinny ones could fight. 

Northern Gas lights. Oh passive mean whites in caves. Bigotry throwback jocularity from the Edison era. I’m good, sub! ‘Sup? Who think glowing memos and pithy tweets pinch a nerve. Legends of Jack Johnson and John Henry’s grammas’ kin. Who’s knee did they sit on? Each of us kids? All grand’s babies learned how to invoke the righteous words of the Lord. Spit them back, as hiss.


It’s a blur. Not sure if tears are the cause. Not sure if that’s water that’s runny. Is love a gas? Is it doing me a solid? Plasma of the pumping. The expressing, the milk. Pursed lips of both types: tight and open. Can pursed lips smile? What would we call those “side muscles”? Wait a minute. It’ll come to me. 


If you are dark, whatever you do in the dark is unseen. Dark mind, selected dark parts. How do bright colors shape, sharpen your luminosity? Folds of cloth. Dreads used to be checked at the airport for drug smuggling. Afros looked into but not wispy bouffants. Followed in the store, cabbie skipped until we shamed them (remember when they could be shamed?) We’re always on ice, mounted. We’d be the last ones you shoulda checked. Assume the gilt position. Harm hate hades (the submissive pose). 

How can we hide, occlude without becoming hides/Hydes? Tell the truth, shame the same. Black love is first and unconditional. What’s under the cloth, how we adorn and displayed. First God had no name, God named and everything, everything came. Who are you to say, I am what I am based on what I show you, icy? I see: in. God Almighty, all the possible, Love. 


One must situate oneself in dreams, make a lintel out of mist, out of water at its most unstable. Water breeds. 

Descartes missed that the point is round. A black dot. 

An albino iris reveals red optic truth. The camera lens reveals the red outside of itself. Light is a subjective thing. We’ve spoken so much of darkness. 

We were in a juke joint for the last time before you died. I owe you a drink. The glass was so empty at the bottom. I had a Shirley Temple. A woman, a girl really who moved with a Black man whose syncopates were his mother’s heart, worry-time in this strange land. 

Future-show ships are so grimy. Made by men, made by me seeing as men see. A black woman moment: Abbott Elementary joke calling quaint Quinta Bilbo. A little Black lady, lush candy-apple, leads a world meant to reduce us. Coulda used her model in sixth grade. I’d try to imagine something outside of the Pentecost flourishes of Marvin and Stevie’s ghetto panopticonography. Something fantastic, me in it. Technicolortopia. Black girl flossing, Black child gloss. To twilight time, growing. She pulled him to later with earth heat. Not sickly, sweet, no chile.  

Sometimes I wonder if Black women are born detectives, not missing a thing, the tightrope of yearning and demand that’s us. The seat of everyone, how we all begin before babes. The need, the demand. The neutral x that’s known. 

An aesthetician makes a ship, we are taught femme is persnickety, like looks don’t matter. Macho doesn’t give a lurk. Bebop the Black guy in the show doesn’t suit up like the bebop progenitors, looking clean. He’s missing something. I don’t trust whomever makes brothers miss body parts for comedy. I saw Roots and the quiet in the ensuing days. Beautiful Levar, eyes full of water, they covered for his future. Too fine, even in space, fear of Black peering assessing. Whoopi, with body, in a tent. Sista acting like not bla-dau (wolf whistles ain’t right so we background singers make a new tune). Between Roots and militarized Star Trek there was Uhura, always a stunner, with eyes on the back of her head. Neither Black nor Green, not allowed to see the whole black space unless called for. 

I Like to Think We’d Both Figure it Out Similarly:

Problem solved: We live in the cornfield, the place he doesn’t go. Where is our true north after slavery? It’s not a fixed place, it’s not even north. In the endless space there is no direction, only circles upon circles. Enveloping, evening, twirling. If earth were to stop, if earth were to stop its somersaulting we would fly out and still turn. 

Hey Girl, they just found a core around the core and the center of the world and they don’t move at the same speed. Any mama with edges, slick or unkept, knows this. There is no edge:
The river undertowing all of it. H2O before the Sun. Sweet sweat under flat iron bobbing up in blood-color, rust.

Opining, Opening:

She doesn’t speak in turn. Mixed race relationships: Samantha and Darrin. Do you think Endora fucked up Dick York? Did the Salemites lack a sense of humor? Let your flag fly telekinetic. Psychedelic. I guess you could be generous and say: at least he wasn’t a pimp.

Jeannie in loungewear always blonde and ready. Not exactly middle eastern but luxe drippy-kinda Hippy. Purple magic dragon living with her “in the bottle.” Girls shouldn’t throw up seeing these things. Men afraid and saying “act normal.” Maurice Evans shoulda used all that with Rosemary Woodhouse. They were not jerking around. Poor Tabitha. They were right to name the boy Adam. 

Flesh forward, flesh memory: buried under those tales, told by Calvinists to scare the intuition out, mutants. That’s just science. A legless man in charge. Scary Sabrina. The white fantastic. 
Black specters even ML King. Where are the Black ghosts, their knowing? Since Daughters of the Dust, since Eve’s Bayou, Black hoodoo is sunken, wild, unabridged. In the White imagination, even pretending, it’s a madwoman’s house, a Glenda the Good umbrella. I get it: Nat Turner had a momma, Touissant, too. Harriet didn’t need a spell, she had a gun. 


If Herland had been the series instead of Handmaids’ how many seasons would it have lasted? Remember “All that Glitters?” The only charming bigot is a male one and Carroll had the gig. The Last Man was about him, even when there was just the one cis. Ah well. Is it so unimaginable? Could we work it out and get along, just between us (unspooling Charlottes’ gyno ethno-statist web)?

I wouldn’t want to be the odd man out in Gilligan’s Island, I wouldn’t even want to be Mrs. Howell in that scene. Everyone’s up for grabs. 

Could we put it all to the side? The women eating barbecue at the lynchings? The mammification, death-ening of our full selves bound by twisted strips of cotton? 

The Queen in the black and white board is the most agile, has the most moves. What could the detente be? Could we learn from Lot’s wife? She didn’t know she had nothing. Nothing to lose. Not even the dignity of dust, bone or ash, only what’s left of the dried sea. 


Gamine, a Venn game. Concentric twists instead of checked boxes. Demographers, demigods all a bit off. Not you though. Knot through. 

In order to knit one must come through the other. There has to be a nap, something to hold, something to gather. 

Velcro was inspired by Black hair. I’m sure of it. Some pre-Police Sands all-inclusive visitor saw the sun-bleached pyrotechnique from blanched to copper crimson to earth seed. Wondered about how those twins twine to rope. How do they hold together, in this crazy atmosphere? 

Told Nasa there must be something to it, surreptitiously sneaking Jamison’s pick with a fist on it. She had to replenish the dozens. If Black people can extend peasiness to feet of tightening curls, we can master the tether to Mars, to Venus, beyond charity, pass the Kuiper. 

Say As, Sass:

She gives up and she gives it up. Spins and spires. DJs cooled molten wax, black flaxen hair hue tied. Why so many Black kids name Dante: their mothers know descents into living hell, ascents to heaven. Angels bow to our wishes prismed light, prismed darkness. It is not a contrast, bands of light radiating all. One chooses to change a name to something Blacker, umbilical hyphen of motherland to another. Leaving a family gift, opened, on the porch. Getting something discounted instead and paying for it yourself. 

Not Saying So, Per Se:

“Be angry like a man,” my acting director said. I approached the role Black butch-femmely with surliness a hand on hip passive aggression equalling “You should know why I’m mad.” Man anger is physics.

A bitter bitch crumples in on herself. A bitter buck, thrusts. 

An electric pulses when we hold across, both hands, instead, a circularity, a circus. We both blinked, crinkling at the corners, can’t help but laugh. 

Do It:
Make me

Obatala or
Make something out
Of drunk dusk


Make summer

Watts hunger

That jumps
The cell

Taste taste

Me right there


make me

some other tetrasyllabicon

make out and generate


make fall

electric slip form
the side of the head

primordial soup

taser, zap

oh I see, I see I see I see


Up on: A Time:

A woman with a lasso, a woman with a noose, a woman with a striated crown. A woman is a florid, a woman rose. A red woman, a ride woman, a dyed woman, a maker, miss chief. Miss Thang, missing. 

Later for you: a wrist twist w thumb and forefinger up, twirled, remaining three fingers a half-fist. Some kind of sign like dap but unfriendly. All these palms making explosions, Black copy, Black coy, something fishy. 

Isis had how many scorpions? Pions. How many prions, Osiris? I mean that could mess up your mind. Like a lot of women, like Lot’s, she stitched. 

Water full, all kinds of fluid, humoristic. Truth. What is the blot of Meat’s pen? The clotting utter. Every edge of a bubble has skin to mold.

I take, a few laps. 

On Mute:

I assign with my fingers. I do the crooking saying “come.” 

No vocabulary. Exhalation as stalactites, the warm cave. 
The sable tooth. Odin’s hell was froze. 

Singe runes, pointed slate, darkening care, being able
To handle yourself. 

God, I Wish:

You were more than in my mind and sinew. How do we raise the dead besides Black church fans moving palpable air? The spirit moves through as Aretha indicated and she meant that both ways, hell yeah, she did. 

It’s not enough though. My hidden smirk. How could I have missed you during those punk days, your wantoness so easeful and natural. Questioning a gross acceptance yet giving your son an African name. 

Black is Alpha and Omega but without the Greek design-ation. We don’t even have our own words for the beginning, having had our authoritative tongues ripped out. 

Yet in still, our future is a heaven where you call and we sit together, cascarilla on meat and a fresh bottle of wine we all share. Something new with the old. Out with nothing. 

Jus Grew:

“If “if” was a fifth…” Looking to what was the future here in 2023, I would not have imagined a future without you here. Even though I didn’t know you then, you were atmosphere. I

just had to get to you. A cross roads and a guitar, official, officious letters. A heartstring plucked. Heart sore. In graved. 

Your etched image on high, relieved. 

You Used to Be Able:

— to buy collards off the truck on Pennsylvania Avenue and Liberty Boulevard. Now you get three leaves in styrofoam at Whole Foods. Later, there will be one leaf sliced like parsley for garnish and our biology disallowed. 

We used to have to cook them for hours to untoughen. Now we can sauté them soft. Soon they’ll be a gummy. Lost teeth in the scrub land of the rural south, all the water drained by pigs, the desalination undermined by micro plastics turn us all andro-android (always made men). 

I believe though: that echoes become full throated in the inner ear we don’t turn our black on, the first God that made us, that we made. She did not pull us apart so we wouldn’t be lonely, she said: here is milk, slake. My body is yours. 

The Seeress:

Everything you predicted was true. Even the phrasing. Except Stedman. Funny how that ste(a)diness was the only shaky thing. Ha! 


The story of Rapunzel was some bullshit, some man making her bob as he climbed and climbed. 

The weather is better here with these two curling around their buds. These two, maybe more, seeing into a crystal ball, peering through glass, threw the speculum, troughing with eyes, tongue, hair, scents, the curve of an ear where the unghh reverbs and the inner ear, the inner circle, such delicate bones. Cotton like tip, swirling softly, in and out, heart tilling. Bound. 


What has Changed:

AO,K: Every little thing that can be seen is digitized, is made into two-dimensions pretending to be four, even by us. 

Our intimacies are sold and robotized. Our somatic inferences lobotomized, our logosphere, colonized. 

John Henrik tole me that Nzinga wasn’t defeated by Whites, directly, they drove Black people slaved-crazy on the islands and sent them back to Africa to fight. Whose who?
Who says Black is a baser hue? Aaron retorts because he remembered “We ran your shit.” How do we recall, invoke and not just a cut/pasted version to explain to white believers that we are not dangerous? Can we dig an underground? 

Grandma had stronger nails. I think it was the bone broth she swore by that’s now $20 per ounce. All aping, ape-shit. Making bleakness out of our rich soil, our centrifugal RNA. Hoodoo recall is just waiting, waiting for us to de-brainwash these sick systems. And as usual, we pave the way for the world’s salvation. Our birthings are the only true ones there are. Our openings, our utterances, our pours. 


You were not, are not arrogant, yet you sat straight up in your bed at the end. Your son stood on his own two feet before rising. He was not arrogant. He was a natural man. You were a natural woman. 

You are both natural. 

In nature you exist. Bad mamma jamma, eternal son of womb-man. Fear of a Black reckoning is the primal scream away from us. 

Sometimes we give others too much air. Most inhabitants of this earth are coloraturas, say they love the old ways, elders yet despise us. Deep hate of darkness is a helluva drug. Eternally addictive. Resentful of our limbs, extensions: lengths, roundness, anti-gravitational affect, even to our hair. 

Wound about. Antennae, perceptual, hole. Unhymened, Harmonic strains the melodious. 
The core’s scorch. 


No one, and I mean no one, simply sashays the delineation. You give up something when you hopscotch. Usually an appendage, bones, the outer self, the sack that people make you out as.  I hear you in my chest, out the corner of my eye a dread flounces like a lash (cat o’mine or eye), scrying large. The tine of a tuning fork. Where they meet beyond my view. 

Before I locked I used to look at our uncombed hair and say: how did that dread part? How’d it separate? When one grows up/it, you learn by living, not doing: it started as thin two then joined as thick one and twirled, bonded power. 

It’s like that with death and living. With the recent and the past-past. With the ever-elusive future. 

My arm fuzz doesn’t crackle. Languishes up with the loving zephyr. That’s you, and all of them I adore, like you. Baby hairs are everywhere, unfleeked, they’re transmitters, receptive. 

Come to: Your Senses:

Odor/scent, blinding/prismatic, deaf/resonating, yucky/funky, maul/caress, balance/ask you, timed/eternal, pain/stimulate, hunger/reception, humidity/immersive: 

We start, feline/fem kneading nothing, born to fill fill fill. Totalizing through. Oh, oh. 

Phasing, sidle cells, unrestrained to fulfill s(o)m’others. Seek your fill, flowoverflow.

Face Masque:

Queer poet, Red living. The hue purpling, pretty, a royal “we.” Let her take you through one eye. An open pore sheen, a clarified visage. Web purposed, thick thinning delect, pheromonic syllabant. 
What sound can you possibly perceive with pulsing covered ears? 

Black All the Way Down:

Sometimes She didn’t have to choose, to negotiate. Down home gets you back to roots. The first hair you saw was one kind of love. The ones just like yours is anew version, springing. 

  1. Back to a home you never went to, no name for who you are, a blank Black page, unutterable. A word silence is still saying something. Yes, even if a tree fell. The canopy helps that bubble rise until it sees over the undistinguished
  2. 3 faces: laughter, frown, smirk. Child, woman, eternal, here, missing, gone. Who was the little one who couldn’t say a thing? A mother now gone who accused? Where to forgive? Now that we know better, where is the place, anywhere, where we can both exist, having learned, letting ourselves be full, having life’s spark, the pierced living veil, blooming eyes, and gorg? 

—After she said dialogues: flesh memory by Akilah Oliver

NOTE: This poem is a companion to Akilah Oliver's masterful debut collection, the she said dialogues: flesh memory reprinted by Nightboat Books in 2021. Akilah's work remains critically important, prescient, vivacious and raw and has grown even finer over time. In this companion piece to the original work, a more “id” persona of myself, grieving still for the loss of my friend, responds to elements in each poem in the source text. I respond by getting “caught up” in the wave of energy Akilah presents in this work, while also generating a text that holds together on its own. Tears Cycle: Companion Peace is an improvised text that has been edited. It has an epistolary and elegaic focus. The best way to experience this poem is to read Akilah's book side-by-side with it. I hope that my small contribution exposes more readers to Akilah's indelible and enduring significance. — TM

Tracie Morris’s recent books include the forthcoming titles handholding: on the other hand (Kore Press), human/nature poems (Litmus Press), We Do With Words: A Black Speech Act Workbook (Chax Press) and Hard Korè: Poems of Mythos and Place (Joca Seria Press).