Poetry: London Pinkney

A Black Poem

There is no poem to be had. There is no metaphor.
Black death is a currency. An education. A postcard.
Black death is Christmastime. Black death is a baseball card.

Run your fingers over the holographic image
of Black death face down in the street
of Black death in a cell
of Black death laying next to its pregnant wife.
The image is smooth and raised like keloid skin.

When viewed in sunlight the image
creates tiny rainbows that dance across your face.
Even in death we dance to keep from dying.
Even in death we perform.

Black death is a performance. A think piece. Black death is Black (capital B) bodies (lowercase b).
Such small bodies. A smotheringly silent b.


when i was first called REDBONE i was excited / probably because it was something other than BLACK / probably because it was a new thing / a new thing about myself / a new film a person can slide over the projector of me / kaleidoscope my identity baby / free me from me / because baby is confused / because baby is brown / babys never been BLACK her whole life / her whole life baby aint never been nothing but BLACK / but i know you know we are all pink on the inside / but i know you know we all have yellow yolks / and we are all from MOTHER AFRICA too / and boy i hope thats true / because if we all from MOTHER AFRICA / id tell HER AFRICA on you


In the pursuit to domesticate myself,
I learned how to cut flesh from others
and graft them to myself.

In three weeks time I swapped: a leg for an arm; an arm for a leg; a breast for a left foot.  

I have sewn pinky fingers behind my ears and stealthily swapped my septum for another’s.

This, all to produce the biggest fruit. 

London Pinkney is a writer. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Ana. She is currently a Fiction MFA candidate at San Francisco State University. She was the 2019 receipient of the Joe Brainard Fellowship. London Pinkney has been published at Mirage #5 / Period[ical], Seen and Heard,The Fem, among other places.