Naima Yael Tokunow




To make I earn they say

Give teeth give bone out

See how they bested

this whole ugly land mass

They civiled an missionaried

taught I to be horse plow

They come from nothing

rescue nothing that were

They indebted this whole

ugly land mass to theirs

To your own nothing say

Come body be up come money come

They are no magic no special

just god-given and work they say

Where did your tongue go and

How come you don't have any

thing and don't shrug at that

Don't point to the land

Don't think how you plucked

the whole crop from this ugly

land mass and are still with nothing

Sell your mama they tell your bed or

Sell whole your house

for a better house To make

I earn burn eyes out

No to make I earn

pull nothing towards upwards

they say This way no harder no upper

like you've got something

down there to pull




An exploded heart is not a zinnia.
Is not something red and spooked,
it doesn't flower. At first, it keeps blood
in its corners. Drinks and spits and
drinks and spits. How was it plucked?
With garden shears, with handguns.

Your body was sucked into a metal rip
of tide. Bullet as black hole, you as black hole.
A gun made easy fragments of you.
Your heart, a ball under a tire, bulging.
Your blood must have panicked, and shocked
with so much iron, stumbled.

I would like to build back your body
in this poem, but you are not customizable—
you are mercury tipped and burning.
They grew you monstrous, your body flail-
you body flail- your body flailing,
a marionette on one ugly, digital loop.

Who held the camera that put you here,
your body not yet gray with injury. Who saw
you and couldn't reach out. The space between
bodies thickened, demanded inertia,
got only a little. That watching body stuck.
That watcher, this poem, nauseous with recording.

I cannot unwatch you, but I imagine your heart
shooting up from your body, untarget.
But sitting in front of my computer, I have no magic.
Your dead heart plays like a bootleg album
at a party—the needle pops, the warp shows,
and skips and skips and skips.