This selection, chosen by guest editor Sarah Clark, is from Heirloom by Ashia Ajani, released by Write Bloody Publishing in 2023.
after my shoe spreads the guts of an unassuming earthworm across a crosswalk didn’t it just want to breathe didn’t it just want to dance in the rain too
A body can be a prison if you let it. Fanon calls a puddle an ecosystem minutes before a boot disperses its wet contents. Split tongues emerge from the fragments, eager to taste what lingers on the sole. Power is the difference. This is a food chain, after all, begging us to spin sustenance from scarce dew droplets. Dark, wet continents fall from our hips, waiting to be caged once the dust settles. Small pond, small body, it must be so heartbreaking to see yourself reflected in every iris that passes you over; a well of emotion, motionless til the heat of summer evaporates you into the invisible everythingness that surrounds us. Just as the dehydrated hips of hibiscus widened when met with moisture, so too shall you unfold past short-lived habitats. Change accumulates languidly like condensation. In the ancient sludge of existence, you disperse endlessly.
Ashia Ajani is a sunshower hailing from Denver, CO, (unceded Cheyenne, Ute, and Arapahoe land), now living in Oakland (unceded Ohlone land). A lecturer in the AfAm Department at UC Berkeley and a climate justice educator with Mycelium Youth Network, Ajani has received fellowships from Just Buffalo Literary Center, Tin House, The Watering Hole and others. Their words have appeared in Sierra, Atmos, World Literature Today, Frontier Poetry, & elsewhere. Ajani is co-poetry editor of the Hopper Literary Magazine and a Fall 2023 Poet in Residence at SF MoAD. Their debut poetry collection, Heirloom (Write Bloody Publishing), dropped April 2023.
Sarah Clark is a mad crip genderfuck two-spirit enrolled Nanticoke editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at ANMLY, Editor-in-Chief at ALOCASIA: a journal of queer plant-based writing, Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology (Seagull Books, 2024) and the Bettering American Poetry series, and a current Board member and Assistant Editor at Sundress Publications. They have edited folios for publications including the GLITTERBRAIN folio and a folio on Indigenous & Decolonial Futures & Futurisms at ANMLY. Sarah freelances, and has worked with a number of literary and arts publications and organizations, including the Best of the Net anthology, contemptorary, Curious Specimens, #PoetsResist at Glass Poetry, Apogee Journal, Blackbird, the Paris Review, and elsewhere.
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