Three Poems

You should know this city
thirsts for copper-
tinged sediment & meat
fresh from the workers
of the dying farms & fields.
Sick without a steady flux
of salt-leaking star-beaten
bodies, this city turns
in on itself & chews
on my sisters—their faces,
an edible bouquet
of bloody balloons;
my brothers—their ghosts,
hanging spinach in the city’s teeth;
swinging from construction cranes
flags of the dead or dying.

Last month, while driving back
from the funeral in Dallas, traffic
hit just outside of town. I pulled
into a cemetery—to smoke
& think about what waited for me
just down the road under a bypass.
A mall of tents, an officer, and a mausoleum—
all the half-eaten & unclean—
everything under the city’s kitchen sink.

Tired of trying to be touched
in places that no longer exist,

we amuse ourselves in the dark
by hyphenating our names

with invisible bodies, smoking
menthols & laughing

about the large dicks
of our dead husbands.

We share tips about screwing
our tears down to the floorboards,

stowing away our carnalities
deep in the groins of arbitrary men

—sometimes women—erasing any evidence
we ever resisted the sanctuary of sleep.

Gyrating slow, we dip
our shoulders into the swelling Atlantic—

reach back for whatever can be recovered
from the flood. She finds a conch shell.

I find the cowrie. We both stand—counting
the sand we’ve gathered in our bowls.

We bought our rings in the market
down by Café Du Monde,

sterling silver—so the orb
wouldn’t break—

and the old black poet at the table next to ours
murmured that you were lucky to have

such a beautiful brown woman
by your side. You didn’t

correct him. He told us to get married.
You said nothing. We laughed.

What would your family think
when they saw us—with our bands?

We laughed, drank coffee,
and said nothing for hours.

You knocking your ring against
the fragile rim of the mug

in a rhythm I couldn’t quite catch,
as we ate sugar-coated buns and waited

for the sun to lean over us
into the streets

and fall.

Faylita Hicks

Faylita Hicks’s debut poetry collection, HoodWitch (Acre Books, 2019), has been named a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award, and work included has won Best of Net and nominations for the Pushcart Prize. Hicks was a finalist for the PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship and Palette Poetry Spotlight Award, and is the recipient of fellowships from Right of Return USA, Lambda Literary and Jack Jones Literary Arts. Their poems and essays are published or forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, Longreads, Adroit Journal, Barrelhouse, The Rumpus, The Cincinnati Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, SLATE Magazine, Huffington Post, Texas Observer, and others. Hicks is the Editor-in-Chief of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review.

Hailey Brown

Hailey Brown is a freelance illustrator born and raised in mid-Michigan. With a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology, she spent years formerly working as a field biologist. Moving across country to the East Coast, she also moved from science to art and graduated the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. Hailey works as a freelance colorist and illustrator for a wide assortment of clientele including comic anthologies, fantasy authors, and Dynamite Entertainment.

First Featured In: No. 16, summer 2020

The Monsters Issue

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