Featured Poet: Kamilah Aisha Moon – The Feminist Wire

Featured Poet: Kamilah Aisha Moon


woke up again parched from a dream /
full of old water, the only urgent tide /
in me lately. eddies of sweat, /
promise perishing in each exhale. /

i matter too why didn’t i believe i matter /
more than an unblinking, shadowed eye /
that refused to look at me with love?

perched on the edge of a day
that could be owl or ostrich—
wise flight or kicking dust,
i pray for wings that sprout beyond
my body if i must be
out of proportion, that my angers
rinse away into the drain
and i’m not driven mad by small
crawlings all over and through me,
by what has branded me
for the rest of this life.

it’s always a choice, the angel spoke-sang,
to be stronger than what pulls
us down. let these night sweats
rain a salty hope, despite waking up
full of old water with the flaked mouth
of a sharecropper at dusk.
why settle for shacks when i own
a sprawling, rambling heart?
why stay thirsty when
many draw from my well?

in the bushes, a cat wails
like a woman forced
to defend something precious.
i toss my crumpled sheet
like a discarded cape
and rise, shoulder blades
aching to split open and bloom



How can this be? How can more than half a dozen teenagers take part in such a fatal racist attack in a region and a nation with a history of racial violence and most of them just be allowed to walk away from it? […] Welcome to 21st century Mississippi.
__________–Michael Deibert, Huffington Post

As young white fists and feet
fueled by heirloom fury landed
soundly into my flesh

and later, when the green
Ford F250 roared like fans
at a football game and I
staggered, 49 and bruised,
into bright
glassy eyes, I only thought

of my poor tax-paying,
church-going mother
who had the audacity to believe
with every chamber
of her Jackson-bred (not Jasper, TX)
heart, that the rise of Obama
meant no more Evers or Tills–
until they called her
to peel me
from Mississippi concrete.



They didn’t plan on perishing like this.

Somehow, between the blurring of wings, nesting,
settling on branches that snapped
like twigs, a tumble began.
Their bodies plunged
through a gape in the side
of a crumbling house. Trapped, this fall
breaks them for good.

The middle-aged couple sleeping within
can’t fix what they own.
Everything unspoken shifts
beneath them like loose tile—every window
seems latched, and doors never flung open
keep them unhinged from each other.

The fallen wait as cheap siding morphs
into a tomb.
For awhile they thought if they just screech
loud enough, long enough,
they could holler themselves back into the sky.
Inches away on a wire, smaller birds perch
in mute vigil. What else can they do but stare
at the rotten, growing mouth
swallowing lives?

Inside, the wife rouses
from fierce scratching, fevered song
in a familiar pitch. It’s her home
but she can’t show them the way out.
She hears their cries thin like the hours,
talons whispering final rites.

She clamors into the phone
while her grown children sit
on the other end of the line without words,
summoning God.
She shrieks at her husband, “Things are dying
inside of our walls!”
“I know,” he mutters. “I know.” He fought tailspin
for years, still remembers flight.

A recipient of fellowships to the Prague Summer Writing Institute, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, Cave Canem and The Vermont Studio Center, Kamilah Aisha Moon‘s work has been featured or is forthcoming in several journals and anthologies, including Harvard Review, jubilat, Sou’wester, Oxford American, Lumina, and Callaloo. She has taught English and Creative Writing at Medgar Evers College, Drew University and Adelphi University. She has led workshops for various arts-in-education organizations and in settings as diverse as libraries and prisons. A featured poet in conferences and venues around the country, Moon received her MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.