and what other flavors can one expect
from something so forbidden, even the
Lord hesitated to call it fruit?
when you kissed the corners of my mouth,
just enough cheek caught between your
lips for us to remain only friends? How did
you miss the nectar of bruised lemons
and offending scald of lye? How could you
love a breathing skeleton
and not want to be a secret?
sweetness is a luxury allotted only to the
living. not just the alive — and oh! what
i'd do for a drop of sugar on my tongue,
pretty lips caressing this dust infestation,
a scrape of tenderness, or just soft words.
the edges of a sword forged in the flames
of my silence have banished those desires; cast you
out of the garden we tilled
with our own brown fingers. i loved you
so deeply, i had to damn us to a purgatory
of distance in tandem.
And that guilt, the aversion of your eyes
has sliced the corners of my mouth into
a boundless, bloodless grimace. trace every
line and you could navigate your way to our end.
and pretend there was never a beginning.
if i turned your way ever again, pretty girl,
eternal sister of sin,
would you see where my scars
have mimicked the curvature of your
hips? the sweet saltwater of
your collarbones? would you shout my name into the ears of those who
would have us dead before together?
Or can I never find an oasis in you again?
What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?
An emerging poet, to me, is one who is on the crux of a new discovery as far as their own craft goes. In my opinion, it does not matter how many books you have out, or acceptances to journals. As long as you are growing and learning and experimenting, you are emerging. A poet can emerge and re-emerge as many times in their life as possible, despite what recognition they get.
Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?
I do consider myself an emerging poet because I am in constant pursuit of growth. I have been writing poems and stories for upwards of ten years and yet I am currently in the most rapid period of discovery I’ve ever been in. Less than a year ago, I knew nothing about chapbooks, and online journals, and cover letters. I only knew my voice. My pen. My need to release. Now I’m learning, expanding, and connecting.
What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?
I believe it takes a lot of persistence and hunger to be “recognized” in the poetry community to the caliber that most people would agree is recognition. You have to be willing to face tons of rejection, practice diplomacy, and, if your work is considered “bad”, compromise the integrity of your poetic voice for the sake of acceptance if that is your goal. The poetry community is so saturated with publications it’s nearly impossible to attain widespread recognition, especially because there are so many different tastes and preferences.
How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?
I feel that power politics facilitates a person’s perspective on what is “good” in any community. In academia and beyond, the stars of the show are always dead, white, males. And the poetry community is no different. Particularly at the beginning of our journeys, we are exposed to all these big names that have produced great work but typically do not represent the diverse voices of civilization’s echo chamber. These limited “classical” voices cultivate a glass ceiling of what work is considered relatable and universe, causing us to turn to disingenuous themes, styles, forms, etc. to fit the archaic, overly pedantic standard of “good”. As great as they can sometimes be, what can a dead white male poet from the 1800s teach this black female feminist of the 2nd millennium? Little else but silence.
What does community mean to you?
Community presents and fosters diversity, dialogue and growth. We support each other. We love on each other. And it shows in our craft. Community is where our craft comes to life and where our work gains a face. As soon as I was exposed to the vast and diverse independent publishing community on the internet, I was reading everything I could get my hands on and it inspired my work. I was reading poets who were ALIVE. I was reading poets whom I could email and tweet to, raving about how much I love them. Consuming work by people you can engage with merely seconds after said consumption is such a surreal and beautiful experience.
KHAYA OSBORNE is black, femme, queer, and here. She is the Poetry Editor of Cerurove Magazine and Social Media Manager/ Poetry Reader for Black Napkin Magazine. Her work can be found in Crab Fat Magazine, WusGood Magazine, Rising Phoenix Review, Vending Machine, and Columbia Review. She loves reading poems and lives for black celebrities dragging the Kardashians for filth. Please don't tell her that her poetry is good for her age. She knows...and it's condescending.