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three poems

by makalani bandele


nobody gets out alive. what in the infernal name of whiteness? thought they’d bring the lads in for a sniff and still aint find nuthin'. it takes one to know one in three’ll get you swiss-cheesed. don’t flaunt that the candy is good unless you came with plenty. the poverty rate in the u.s. for white men is seven percent, it is twenty percent for black women, eighteen percent for latinas, and twenty-two percent for native american women.

jopappy sitting back on ice, cuz his case on pend'. the jig is upside down. what you do is bomb a weak hypothesis. out the frying pan and into the shu for so long that when you re-emerge you have to retrain your eyes how to recognize faces. time ceased to make marks we could quantify, or just because it's two o'clock don't mean that we have to stop. aint no percent it's just native women, black women, and latinas out here alive in resistance to every u.s. rate. prayer for a nonbinary world where birds never need to land. would call the police on the police were there such a thing. game changer. zip, zero, zilch, nada, nichts, nichego, negro, please.

lyrical notes:

De la Soul. Lyrics to “Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin’s Revenge).” Genius, 2020.

Yarbrough & Peoples. Lyrics to “Don’t Stop the Music.” Genius, 2020.


a cold winter and black folk caint wait till summer. give her her wide berth in her maneuvers through loving her body. pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse, pulse, and still not pulsating like we want. next level: narrative of constitutive metonymic components. now, don't make me pop that trunk to the 'lac, cuz i will go get it. something phantasmal and outlaw like it's its own field opening to the horizon. this is scripted, aint it?

got me twisted and her days and nights mixed up. calling oneself thus, or self-styled. that good good is what's good, and them republican talking points can go on somewhere with they foolishness. jimmy crack corn and i don't care. a cold horizon that caint wait like an outlaw on the run when she sees an opening. to encourage ways of reading aware of the gaps in meaning that inevitably exist in flowering. when you out, but they keep trying to bring you back in. the queer body ravenously hungering. look ma, no fucks.

lyrical notes:

Youngbloodz. Lyrics to “Damn!” Genius, 2020.

Leadbelly. Lyrics to “Blue Tail Fly.” Genius, 2022.

at that bad girl’s duplex (where it goes down)

that bad girl that’s bad, but good to herself

strapless as she is boundless and striving

oh strapless, oh unstoppable in striving—

yellow daffodils push light out and around

in a field of jonquil, sunlight all around

the fast threat of violence is unbearable

how to process bearing the unbearable

she puts her whole body into the thought

she puts her whole body into the thought

blossoms on lemon tree, middle of winter

like blossoms on lemon trees in the winter

her heart is a fortress with laughing windows

that open out to a world that breaks windows—

she defiantly holds space for herself

for M. P.


makalani bandele is an Affrilachian Poet. He has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Kentucky Arts Council, Millay Colony, and Vermont Studio Center. His work has been published in several anthologies and widely online and in print literary journals, Washington Square Review, Prairie Schooner, and 32poems to name a few. ‘mak’ is also the author of the books hellfightin’ (Willow Books, 2011) and under the aegis of a winged mind, awarded the 2019 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize, which was reviewed by Lynnell Edwards for Good River Review. His latest manuscript, (jopappy and the sentence-makers are) eponymous as funk, won Futurepoem’s 2022 Other Futures Award and is slated for publication in 2024.


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