PORTRAITS OF MAMA MBOGA NEXT-DOOR JUST PAST HER LATEST TEEN by Redscar McOdindo K'Oyuga

 

              she is ruined without ether

or violet smoke, covers her skin

             in jewels. she is the taj mahal,

she’s what happens to little toys

             in the dark looking for their toy trucks

and invisible friends named Mogoks

             or Bobo. she covers her sapphire bruises

in trench coats and tobacco, covers

             her communications with purple and thyme mist.

her crystals are shattered mirrors, her face

             barely forming in their cave

like facets. the cut covers her lip. you’d marvel

             how she’d look without an eye,

a head. see slashes so deep and red

             they hit bone complement her

complexion, her mouth, her lunar eyes.

             if she were an angel her wings

would be numerous, supported in

             complex architecture from cardboard

and wire hangers they are

             monumental, scabrous, mounted by a series

of connections from wire to skin, the thick

             of her butt. in her past life, a marine creature, 
mammary, her skin aquatic, drifted the ocean

             floor feeling like a fossil, like the earth 
swallowed her and held her in its belly, a holding cell

             for the afterlife. it is wondrous how her skin would look 
in a morgue, with her nostrils sliced open, brow bone

             in shreds. you’d see it matches her betrothed’s

pearls and floral. you’d say her eyes were charred

             smoke and bushfire, smoldering,

skin breaking like a shell, or tribal scarring,

             ritual sacrifice, two matching bruises on her

cheeks. the folds of her wings

             are scented slaughterhouses, she rides

a donkey of purple thread, its eyes are embers.

             her former life, a dog, in a construct of cement and uniforms 
because her teeth, which must have devoured

 

Redscar McOdindo K’Oyuga writes in Swahili and English. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in African American ReviewTupelo Quarterly, FoundryCallalooRattleClarion at Boston, Transition at HarvardSAND,MandalaOneEXPOUNDLawinoJaladaSarabaBrittle PaperPoetry Potion, various anthologies, and elsewhere. He won Writivism’s Okot p’Bitek Prize for Poetry in Translation and the inaugural NALIF Prize for Poetry.”

 

Twitter: @RedscarMcOdindo

 

 

 

 

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