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by Ilari Pass





I turn to this page first every time

my gut feels a panic of unbelonging

Now I must sketch the ground below

out of frame is what warning shots look like

when Black men fall, an illustrator of this book

centers in one man at mid-fall, his eyes

meet mine, roll rashly and say

I was meant for this



If all the trees on earth were made into pens

and the night made into ink


most of the lamps that gossip

will fall from the sky


the gentle spaces in the curves of the horizon

still have traces of its original cursive


the words wear away the space of time

my eyes blink open and shut to the world


a moment gained—wasted—used fragments

my memory continues to be written


that carry layers still visible

but we can’t see them perfectly


no matter where I look

everything is distant


my home is a place where my quill will break

and the ink will run dry


this horizon never exhausted, the emptiness

of the many constellations I have drunk



I forgot the story not long after

the wind move out of my vision

on to the next interpretation, the weight

of clouds—with joy and guilt, and joy sprung

from that guilt, thinking I could collect them

for myself, kick and clout them about 

until they cover the sky again


But I am already in the water

can’t see the undertows, still learning

to navigate this turbulence,

there’s a hurricane at every intersection

gearing up to pull me in, to hit me


I love the water but do not like gales

of salt foam hurl at my face

squalls of seashells carry to me by the sluices

if I could just reason with the sunshine,

I might take a better likeness

I look forward to dying tomorrow

Somewhere in the middle of this picture

* * *

When Ilari isn't writing poetry or short stories, she recites Ayahs (verses) from the Quran and enjoys traveling with her family. A four-time Best of the Net nominee, her Greatest Hits appear or are forthcoming in Cutleaf JournalSouth Dakota ReviewPithead Chapel, and others.


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