there are too many black boys settling into the square of my ceiling
like balloons dangling black boys without legs cut off from speeding trains black boys with dried bullet wounds seeping through their hoodies black boys with candies in their pockets and jail jumpsuits on black boys with graduation caps fresh gravel on their faces black boys with pink bras and blonde wigs black boys castrated holding their heads in their hands black boys with smiles carved into their cold dead faces black boys with black boy babies in their arms sockets empty black boys gutted with flowers in their carcasses black boys foaming at the mouth black boys praying cheeks stained white with tears black boys in drag black boys dragged rope burns tattooed on their necks black boys whispering “I love you,” now and “fuck you” later when i trade pussy for a dollop of truth black boys swiping nectar from the fruit of their wounds on my forehead sorry black boys pretentious black boys quarreling black boys studious black boys black boys in deep debt with class codes instead of names black chests rising and falling with my epithet etched into the skin i am tearing the dreamcatcher that traps these black boys like bald eagles in an electrical fence there are too many black boys wading in my blood sunbathing in my light black boys i haven’t yet figured out how to love
i started out thinking: my love is never loud / i’m behind the scenes / loving you / i’m wiping the sweat / off your brow / and sending you back into the ring / loving you / i’m the photosynthesis happening / in the grass / beneath your feet / as you walk on me / loving you / i’m the cells / carrying oxygen to your organs as you sleep / loving you / the force / breaking the seal of the condom / loving you / i’m the gravity / keeping your jesus poster up / loving you / i’m the idea of the color you want to paint with / but can’t mix / loving you / the electrical current driving the light / to your home / so you can reassure your daughter / the daughter that should have been mine / that there are no monsters / loving you / i’m just gonna rent a s tage / because i’m tired / of quiet lust / fed up / with gesture-filled / devotion / like knees scraped / like thighs burning / like a body / in need of an ice bath / and betray what i just said / no more love / by candlelight / no shadow-sign language / i am / the golden child / the bareback bitch / bring your devotions / your em dashes / your more/ and i’ll bring my / salacious / charred / sooty appetite / for you / like something that scares dogs / that sends rats fleeing / roaches crawling / back into dank holes / the x-ray that finds the pea-sized cancer / watching you / watching me / watching it / grow / how what’s expelled / looks like history / disguised as guts / in a bucket / trash day delight / for things that eat flesh / and come / for bile parties / i’m that kind of loving you / the bury you / and don’t shed a tear / loving you / until i am / by / myself.
Afieya Kipp (she/her) is a queer poet and editor born in Brooklyn, NY. She is the founding Editor in Chief of Vessel Press, an indie publisher of womxn-focused narratives and projects, and the author of the forthcoming titles, “Investments in Weak Vessels” (Whiskey Tit Books) and "Hopefully You Find Something Meaningful In This" (Vessel Press). Afieya lives in northern New Jersey where she carries poems in her wallet and is an MFA candidate at Lindenwood University. Follow her on Twitter @AfieyaK and @vessel_press.