Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 1



Every Election Cycle,
The Wind From Birmingham To Chicago Smells Like Ashes

by Khalypso


saved! thank silent, merciful God we are saved!

a ghost rises from the parched soil
of a Chicago cemetery.

she drops a piece of paper into a box and suddenly
freedom rings for all brown things that are not
her tongue.

black women saved our asses this election cycle

her son is somehow
next to her & somehow
in Washington D.C. & somehow
at the bottom of the Tallahatchie River,
guiding its currents.

a well-intended hand grips her arm,
a pair of friendly lips kisses her mummified
cheek.

bless you
you have saved us


she is screaming into everyone’s faces.
she is calling for help.

thank you
for rescuing us from the cradle robber


she is pointing to a struck pine—
split down its trunk and weeping streams of
skittles, bullets, ink;
streams that sound like whistles
& roll across silt like jilted tremors.

we owe you so much

she snatches tires from rope, unable to bear
seeing anything swing.
she tosses sheets of steel to the earth.
she traps every match, every lighter in a meat
locker and tears the lights apart.

we should have listened to you

she is still screaming, still pointing

we owe you so much

we owe you so much

if we could go back in time and do this whole
election again, we would—


any black boy’s body has risen to the
surface of any river.
his mother falls, exhausted,
into an abandoned grave, the ivy molded to
accommodate the curve of her soaked cheeks.

if we could go back

there is jubilation in the streets.
every soft, brown thing is now named Mammy,
Messiah, or Most High.

we’d listen to you this time

she has stopped screaming.
she is whistling now—soft and serene.
she is cursing every selective, unyielding ear
& daring someone
          anyone
to say something about the noise.


Khalypso: "I am an 18 year old poet and actress born in Berkeley, CA and currently residing in Elk Grove. I am the Social Media Manager of Black Napkin Press and Poetry Editor of Cerurove Magazine as well as Culaccino Magazine. My work centers primarily around charting the complicated existence of being colored and woman and alive—a metaphysical dilemma I wish I could conquer and whose defeat I would whisper the secrets of into Ntozake Shange's ear. My work has been published in or is forthcoming in The Columbia Review, Crab Fat Magazine, Vending Machine Press, and Black Napkin Press. I will rep South Sac 'til her dying days and live for black celebrities dragging the Kardashians for filth."




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