Love Jones


They’re about to miss each other
again. She throws her journal
into the trash. Darius calls her name. Nina.
Maybe twice. She turns, realizes
he was inside the café. He heard
her. She hears him. She shuts
the cab door, runs to him — to us,
across the wet pavement.


On the back of my green dress, between
the scapulas, the material cuts out
in the shape of an “O.” Chris takes
his thumb and traces a circle
on my back, a shock runs through me
like power to the first television, I crackle
and pulse — all afternoon
I cannot meet his eyes.


The film changes to black
and white as they kiss.


No sister I know would stand
in all that rain — not even
for Larenz Tate.


Al Green’s “Still in Love” plays
over our heads at the French restaurant.
Chris says, You know his wife threw hot
grits on him
. I cringe: see the sticky
burn of flesh, the bubble before
the scar, the splatter hardening
on a dirty, linoleum floor. Imagine
what he must have done to her


Our conflicts don’t erupt, they simmer.
I should admit I don’t trust you, curse you
out, and throw a jangle of keys
at your face. I should ask more
questions — or at least
the important one.


The unsaid eats away at us
like a silkworm devours a mulberry
leaf. Chris lingers by the door,
grips the wedge like a shield.


Accustomed to picking the remnant
feather stuck to his sleeve, or to smoothing
the arc of his eyebrow, my fingers itch
in the cage of my lap. I used to catalog
angles of his face while he slept. I no longer
recognize his mouth. It makes tiny shapes,
pauses for liquid or air.


Give me the night I said yes
and replace my hand. Give me
the year I said nothing. Give me
a clock with hands I can touch.

Two Poems by Khadijah Queen

From “I'm So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On”; “Theory: Evidence of uncertain shifts”

Three Pantoums by Lo Kwa Mei-en

“Analog Mockingbird Pantoum”; “The Crane Wife’s Heart is Pure, The Crane Wife’s Product is Pure Pantoum”; and “Yellow Swan Pantoum”