kireji*: sometimes used as a cutting tool

index finger glides
over large desk, cool to touch
city lake in view

sweet sources soured
numbers jump, fill pocket lines
smiles spot the air

body, slow submerged
embraced well in waters, clear
floats on matter, light

rushing beige column
a spigot regurgitates
splish splash, patted hands

moistened mother’s lids
daughter, barked from water source
lips roughened in fear

pearl drops down hair strands
red scalp rawed, frantic rubbing
neglect scratched on skin

two-hour thumb stuffed ears
baby suckles cracked nipples
beneath a lolled head

whitened, clammy skin
daughter’s hand touch racing chills
largening chocolate stain

steady silence hangs
time-barred child’s sudden screams
fall o’er boiling pot

lead water sits on
politician’s twitching tongue
bulged blue with despair

body, slow submerged,
embraced well in grounds dug deep,
sink in matter, dark

heads bob, dot the sky
numbers jump, fill sidewalk lines
air studded with teeth

city lake in view
beyond large desk, cool to touch,
condemnation hides

*kireji is a part of a haiku that cuts two fragments. Flint is a fragment of minerals that was used as a cutting tool. This is a haiku of haikus. 3 stanzas/7 stanza/3 stanzas.


i’m 27, give or take a century and this is cisgender and thin privilege come forth beneath the white gay(ze)*

cupped in a memory of a month ago,
i inhabit an hour where each breath i
took served the purpose of fodder for a
deep analysis of the width of my ass

neither the afro, nor the latina
migrated below my waistline, sick of
the fiery catalyst of displacement
caused by a tongue that rolls,
chose sad over sass and
cry over crass,
chose, i belong and
will stay right here,
over more loss

although why this protest
must happen on the landscape
of my body, i do not know,

somewhere, in the kreyol
speaking depths of my
woken steps, an ancestor
spoke to me in a language
i immediately translated
to English (although the
sound of perpetually nearing death
and compassion sound the same
in any language
) and asked me,
“whose eyes were mine?”

i said, m’pa konnen, i lost track
in the eyes of a white latina,
needed to be the kind of black
she would shape, herself. needed to be
pixelated latina, crafted in cubic iotas,
projected malleable, mechanic,
and body prescripted.

i said, m’existe nan miwa, men
i needed the authenticity of all
afrolatina womanhood to match
myriad ways of whiteness, i needed
the afrolatina experiences of my
shape to be fully fleshed out
and seen behind the scene
san the sole purpose of being
pulled like pork for the devouring
and cookie-cutter desirings,
i waited to be full madivinez.

ancestor said,
this is the 21st century,
why are you still
gorged on asks
to live white gaze free?

i told her i wanted an ass.

i said, moun blan pa we k’em femn.
i said, mwen on madivinez ki paka
nwa, et fenm an meme temps.

i said, a white woman told me
she faces sexism, like i
never have. like i wasn’t
at that exact moment.
like my womanhood
wasn’t being denied
because of my
(kankou k’om pat
bezwen forme nan jan spesific,
pou fenm pou ou

and i told her m’transle sa’w di’m
an angles, epi li d’im m’fe ke’l fe
mal. mwen di’l ke’m fe mal, tou,
mwen vle konnen ki moun mwen ye
san zye moun blan ki fe k’om brule

she said, ou pedi?

I said, not anymore.

-Stevie Ambroise

*Lately I’ve been fascinated by how the white gaze makes it harder for brown people to exist in their bodies, but also what my momentary desires to make myself look “more like a woman” says about my cis-privileges and thin privileges, and how my looking into that seems to come up only when my body is being scrutinized and questioned, as if that’s even remotely the same thing as what trans and fat people face. Even in this poem, which has a lot of tough honesty for me, in terms of body image, there’s so much hypocrisy. I am the oppressor here, too.

I’m also interested in how those moments when I like a white person and want to have that specific media perpetuated afrolatina body, what does that do in terms of my connection to my culture, where I’m choosing white approval over who i am?

even when i didn’t ask, they did it for me

What do we do after we march?”

rub rubble from their eyes, (that’s
actually skin, bombed-blasted empty to seek
salvation beneath 6-year old lids.

actually, a thinly cracked, reddened goodbye
from a mother’s splintered throat,

actually the blackening power of a knuckle
to temple, in temple, tempted to sin by bared skin

actually, hope, chipped off by the slammed
cover of Pandora’s box)

how did humans access
what she never dared let escape?

Hope was an undocumented entity
caught in a box pumped with anti-psychotics,
satiated to stillness by the rhythm of their own tears

hope was not what crawled
out from the base of my spine,
my feet scraped across the veiled-
with-forgetfulness karmic time-warp
begotten by the multifaceted figure
of genocide. lungs raw, i know i’ve
been here before, before i died a man,
arrow to the left lung, before i died a woman,
brown Mary ravaged to rubble to lend passage to
lighter-skinned generations and migrants,
before i died as a boy

who got English crammed into his teeth
until his gums bled and he was called

I am
“woke”, eyes bloodshot and
begs to the sky for mercy (where
are the children?) in the same
tissue-shattering language, i call
for freedom with sounds pregnant
with century long justifications
for murder, gums fully bled.

Still, the crowd behind me echoes.
Still, there are chants and repeats.
Still, they see me not dis-eased.

-Stevie Ambroise



blue butterflies land on my chest

there had been a hiatus, a break/
newly made log rot where insects
searched for and found lodging. some-
times what begets a crack in the skin/
(or the heart)/ begets refuge for another being.

stop time,
blood flow and CO2

blue butterflies land on my chest

you can do what needs to be accomplished
and still sustain scarring: this is the spiritual war,
one that breathes amongst other warriors,
blue butterflies land on my chest
where the blood-letting is a soft wind that
sways branches,
blue butterflies land on my chest
where the blood-letting is sand grabbed by
a timid wave’s crest, passively submerged,
blue butterflies land on my chest
where the blood-letting is dust motes caught
unaware in a column of light, exposed
blue butterflies land on my chest
where the blood-letting is sun-wheeled burns/
on sensitive shoulders
everything is necessary.

blue butterflies land on my chest,
symbiosis and sufferance

-Stevie Ambroise

what do we name the space between two goodbyes?

did anyone even hear you open the door?

i love the click-quiet fact that you never left,
a halted breath, non-existently still
in the choice to neither stay nor go

(but to be alive is in the dance,
a sacred risk of movement

you want to remain to me this miraculous
transcendence of death
(i can tell you do
because i stopped waiting
for the sorrow to come/

and air split
skirts around you,
stuck in the back of my throat,
an overdressed
under expressed farewell)

i am alive. you are
swallowed by light, pale, sculpted
beautifully still
we stare,

in the liminal,
between a move forward and
a step back.

sheer tights

she wrote a song/
about death, death was sheer tights/
decorated with tears she pulled/
to birth holes on the sides/
of her calves. tights/
she still wore, wore, wore/
downtown to spin around in,/
among stares/




songs about death.
to the harmony of the incessant
ringing in her ears,
the never-ending melody
that is the after-echo
of goodbyes.

-Stevie Ambroise

All Because I Thought You Looked Like Wisdom

You’re the latest love to turn me to a poem,
after time and trauma stoppered Understanding

too weak to lift rhythm
from the the waving hands of the word
“waist” (or was it waste), which
type of time tripped me up and caught me

like a baby, shrunken too small
by rebirth to comprehend prison
for the sake of precaution, as I watch words,
mobile, fall from the ceiling before I sleep?

they never land on me
i never taste them

for when I dream I chase
because I am a grown man
who is an elderly woman
who feels like a teenager

and you are a pickup
(or a dump) trucking along

and my heart is a filling moon-sliver of a
fingernail, drawing blood from bumper,
destined to never rip, even
as the force and direction of your speed
and the gravelly inertia of your “no”,
leaves me to flap in the wind,
skinned raw swaddled in tears

all because I thought you looked like wisdom.