Back to Issue Twenty-Three.




If I think like the boy I take into me, then I know why
the blood appears. I am an apprentice in a city named
Kiss the Hands Who Kill

& Achilles is the father. His sons crawl out war
with fully loaded hands. I meet Achilles & the streetlights

hush. Bootleg Jordans grant a tongue for my speechless. Praise
the bootlegger.


Outside, the streetlights bend to lend
a shine. The block is hot & the boys

keep coming. I cannot catalogue a thing

he didn’t bore. Even the grass grows
his progeny.


Achilles & his sons.              Achilles is his sons.             Where his sons?

A sensual breeze.
A choking. The body
a smite.


Achilles, deathless man void moonshine, I cut
my veins & see his name. His sons: rampant, melodic. Sweet

negotiations. Love
the violence that births you. Hate

the chirp of the birds you eat.
Love me too, father. Love me.






From Ego Tripping by Nikki Giovanni

My bones converge to altar / bloated
in bad breathing habits / Bus

a table w/ me, Commandment 1 / Know
the way I shake wool / Get my hair braided

& spend 4 hours in the hands
of another black woman / wrapping each hair round

the other / cause my crown immaculate / while
a man prayed to me / quivering in need

of my looking / divine on a cross / My head
thorn full / Till

a wolf handed
me his whole fur / I handed him

off my head / my hair / I think
that’s what Daddy meant / by reciprocity

an inconvenience of need / that leads me
back to me / I don’t make the rules I am / Once

the deed / in need of repentance / was done
My funeral was

casket open / Buried
mouth open / gold fronts gaping

as to not mistake / the gates of heaven
the only way in / through me


Nabila Lovelace is a first-generation Queens native. Her people hail from Trinidad & Nigeria. Sons of Achilles, her debut book of poems, is forthcoming from YesYes Books later this year.

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