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White House

Maybe I should have waited,
given my body more time   

let the pearling of that new
Moon really settle in, burrow in
its call to me, but I had shit to do
and me to do and I forget
the gall of the political --
how it begs against the centering
of self, begs you to meet
your wrangled drama at the
door. I will always have
the trouble of dual simplicities;
of my need to do what I’m
told and my need to do
what I’m led to. I didn’t worry
that it was too late, I didn’t
worry about you at all -- my body
a salt capsule to drown, little concern
for my pilot.


All I can do now is swim good
good love, take note of the golds that
work me down, the shifts that calm my cool. I’m
taking it East, steady on my slow
walk to the capital of my councils,
steady on the way to forgiving my fissures, counting
my crows. God knows I’m a creature
of mystic, God knows I’m a creature of critical
holes, I was given a life and led
it off and astray towards the glitter of
direction. I know now what
thickened the breath, what blackened the

In the mirror I count the
new grids, the crimson lines of
life’s torture coloring
the sugar of my thighs.

In addiction, the stakes are alive.

In illness, the stakes -- they hide,
they sputter, they die.




Imagine?? My Sister an Astronaut?


When she was small I couldn’t see
her I held her hand in tendered

obligation fed her because
she was hungry

slapped her because
she spoke one day she stole

my underwear
I climbed to the top of

our bunk beds my waist a cradle over her’s
my fists a marsh of dead moons

shadowing her little face
after two taps I felt the

monstrosity of my putrid desires

my intrinsic knowings
suddenly afraid to bruise the small

the strange foreign god of sisterhood

it was then I knew
I loved her something bad

she’s off to college going to study
some aerospace biomedical nanoscience

shit some shit only white people think
to study because access is a frame

of reference an organizing principle
in the family group chat she sweats us out

with her excitement about next semester
and 8 a.m trig

in High School I failed everything
graduated with underwhelming decimals

the dark trauma of men lining my transcript
but baby girl has got something

I don’t
it’s called discipline and

it moves her through the world slow
and deliberate all the night a platform

all the trains just stations away
she’s off to space camp in a few weeks

and so fucking casual about it I say, hey
maybe you should be an astronaut yea, thinking

about it as if a breakfast burrito or
mommy’s oxtail

my girl my young knight
driving a needle through the inflated

boundaries of ambiguous sciences I think
shiiiiiiit imagine?? My sister an astronaut???

lineage narrativized through the brat
of my heart into

the prodigious stuff of the stars
towering in bigness

bigger than you and you and you
and you and you.




When I Say The Hood Made Me, I Mean:

A sheer violence and a bed embalmed in it, a small girl pretzel legged at the center, soft stones placed at the north and west of her frame, crystals stapled at the southernmost point, the new world a salt capsule, a one way entrance. Before her nana died there was a brief quiet and then the spirits came and she was besieged with rupture, and talked with them only through series’ of bloodlettings,

the blade cold against the stiff brown skin, the dare ripe with noise, so much noise, and is anyone listening (except the pores of these walls) to this girl shrugging out of the mud, sopping with it but limbs activated nevertheless and the stones with a tide of tension below pushing them up up until the spirit exhausts and the crystals fall back into the bowl of the bed, the sugar sticky and stark, a soft voice initiates the beginning of a new life

                  and then

                                                a hum.



Camonghne Felix

Camonghne Felix, M.A. has received Fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo, Poets House and is an alumnus of the NYU Arts Politics M.A. program and the Bard MFA program. The 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee is the author of the chapbook Yolk, was recently listed by Black Youth Project as a "Black Girl From the Future You Should Know," and has been published in various outlets, including Poetry Magazine, Academy of American Poets, Buzzfeed Reader, Teen Vogue, PEN America, The Offing and The Shallow Ends. Her debut collection of poems, Build Yourself a Boat, was a 2017 University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham & Pollak Prize finalist, and a 2017 Fordham University Poets Out Loud semi-finalist.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 17-JAN 18

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