by Sa Whitley


Neither of us

the bags of human hair

and filaments of skin;


neither of us debris

of dental ash and parched

blood and marrow desert.


Neither of us deny

plastic bags with innards

of paper shredded to pulp,


(which used to be among the living)

would be better,

would make the ballad clean,


easier to touch each other.

Neither of us

believes the paper


metaphor in tatters

carries the weight of forty-three

bags of shredded bone.


We have learned that some

plants know when teeth

are sinking into them,


so maybe paper

without words, severed sentences

throb, are tormented


when torn up like the rest of us,

but neither of us have oblong pieces of

parts of elbows and ligaments


in river bags with double

knots atop.

Neither of us black lilies


on a shoreline waiting to be plucked

by families (fully formed) with arms

that stretch “out, out” into abyss.


Neither of us disarmed

or unassembled,

not yet.


My leg is attached

to a hip that belongs even as

it grazes yours for warmth.


Your chest tilts like the river,

and whenever my head bobs

against the tide of your heart


it upholds a pact with my neck.

Neither of us broken

up or apart,


the embodiment of nothing

but crust.

This is what a love poem


looks like: bare life

as bliss.

Neither of us


stomped out into other

people’s whirl of dust.

Neither of our


fleshless facets on the radio


but unnamable.


Neither your face,

nor mine scorched off,

and we kiss.


Sa Whitley


                                                          contributor 2016 second edition


Sa Whitley is a PhD student in Gender Studies at UCLA, where she also received her Master's African American Studies. They also received the Galway Kinnell Memorial Scholarship to attend the Community of Writers poetry retreat in July 2015. Originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, they are a Black queer feminist activist who enjoys gardening, baking, and Motown. She currently lives in Los Angeles California and organizes with the Undercommons, the Black Infinity Complex, and a working group on "Academic Abolitionism." They have published work in Toe Good Poetry.