Party People

I put you in between my legs and breathe
into your mouth like you’ve
swallowed too much of me
and now you might die

you trapped in your skin
all by yourself, too proud to
tell me to squeeze the
suffering from your lungs

this is always a poem for you
we are interchangeable
in some ways, the stars
started falling out of the sky
and we forgot which
direction we meant to say
in the first place

take me out of your eyes
and i will place you in the armoire
with the glass doors, next to the good
china, instead of in my chest
up under my ribs
next to the longing
i promise

Joy KMT is a 2011 Macdowell Fellow as well as a recipient of a Heinz Endowment fellowship. Her poetry has appeared in Check The Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Emcees and Poets, Amistad: Howard’s Literary Journal, and bloodlotus. She has performed at Cave Canem Pittsburgh Readings, the Ujamaa Marketplace, Words So Fly and the Shadow Lounge. She also produced and performed in the interdisciplinary poetry and art show Her Voice: The Stories, Tales and Myths of Women of Color which premiered as a part of the Sunstar Music Festival at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in 2012.

Peycho Kanev

One Poet in Chicago

This city is scary and supreme.
Its shiny lakeshore with white yachts
and seagulls and herons tilting
quietly upon the marble waves.
The hard-blowing wind
licking the rind of the imposing trees.
Those crazy and beautiful people
walking up and down the streets,
as the Sears tower pierces the alabaster sky.
A long time ago, in some small house,
Carl Sandburg was writing his dreams.
Not too far away, Hemingway learned
his way with the shotgun.
This city of butchers, gangsters,
and sky-drinking poets.
This city of uncertainty
and misunderstood simplicity.
This city of fondness
and knives leading to oblivion.
But it is still early…
One of these days when you wake up with words
in your head transforming into money–
unallowable poet’s dreams…
God did not give His permission to each and every scrivener.
Cup of coffee or the unsolved color of the whiskey–
which absurd will the poet pick and choose?
This city will take care of it!
Back in the day, you could see the little Gwendolyn Brooks
skipping rope with the words forming in her head.
Now, the slam joints are full of screaming typesetters.
This is your place under the sun. City of destiny!
Do not leave it…
The stones of the ruined city wall
will never say: Goodbye!

Peycho Kanev is the Editor-In-Chief of Kanev Books. His poetry collection Bone Silence was released in September 2010 by Desperanto. A new collection of his poetry, Requiem for One Night will be published by SixteenFourteen in 2013. His poems have appeared in more than 800 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Hawaii Review, Cordite Poetry Review, The Monarch Review, The Coachella Review, Two Thirds North, DMQ Review, The Cleveland Review, Mascara Literary Review and many others. Peycho Kanev has won several European awards for his poetry and he’s been nominated for the Pushcart Award and Best of the Net.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

pronunciation of her name

found in Toni Morrison’s Sula

each time she said the word me
there was a gathering in her
where all sorts of people dropped in
or read you a dream

there was a gathering in her
like power, like joy, like fear
or reading, a dream
oh jesus make me wonderful

like power, like joy, like fear
but on the other hand
jesus, make me wonder. full?
she knew exactly what she meant.

But on the other hand
all sorts of people dropped in
she knew exactly what she meant
each time she said the word


Ask Lani Guinier

A double bop for Clinton after Morrison’s Jazz

where is the black
in that Arkansas grin
in that smooth talking jowl
in that slave fattened chin
in the make up we help him
swab over his sin saying

hit me but don’t quit

ask Hillary ask Lani Guinier
what it takes to buy coons
in election year
at convention time
happy darkies all cheer
one saxophone
kiss on the cheek
does it smear

nobody does me like you do

Bill is a name for a teenage law
that might make it through
a shackle built building
that don’t care at all
and don’t want you to survive

hit me but don’t

and a Bosnian war
and a heated intern
and the march into workfare
what didn’t we learn
from not asking not telling
and Lani straight burned
is it drawling or diction
that still makes us yearn

nobody does me like you

what is it
about a white southern man
that makes slime seem so sweet
and critique seem so bland
that the daughters of slaves
would fall for the scam

hit me
like nobody does


Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a prayer poet priestess with a PhD in English, African and African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University. Her poetry appears in several anthologies including: Does Your Mama Know?, Leaving Home Becoming Home, Growing Up Girl and Encounters and a number of journals including Make/Shift, Everyday Genius and Turning Wheel. She also has poetry forthcoming in Kweli, Vinyl and Reverie. She is the founder of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Community School and the Mobile Homecoming Project, an experiential archive project amplifying generations of Black LGBTQ Brilliance.