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Akhim Yuseff Cabey

my basketball poem

begins on an asphalt court of tectonic cracks

like exiled strings of lightning strewn south

across the three-point line then splitting

southwest out of bounds—

directions clinched fists of human breath

no longer comprehend. I am the only man left

on earth: crossing-over air, pulling up in the face

of nothing and no one. recording buckets

in a ledger growing thick and frayed

with each day I’ve agreed to live here alone

so that never again will first-ever human head

transplants best dark faces blown out. or away.


take comfort. there is no more pain here.

no more eroticized suffering as when flies

once dotted the ribs and temples of televised

Ethiopians. they still buzz and lay

their eggs upon hydroquinone corpses

and church wigs on Sunday. these days

I harness remnant noose fibers into a soup

of heavy red pepper and diced cremini

that’s much easier on the throat. my love

do you howl or swoon remembering my funk

the day I chopped the quiver for its aloe

used to cool your bruises from an ancient time

no one will ever be culpable for again?


often I worry your foreign soil fails to grow

all what you need. that your alien sun

is not holy as mine. days I regret

this contract that has cured evil and delivered

you and everyone to safety, I kneel and kiss

these banished fissures of your face—

whisper into their void that old cliché.

then after a no-look pass to nothing—to no one

I cut a wrist to guarantee he has honored

his half of the deal: that asparagus grows

strong in the ground wherever you are

and confetti of solace and loneliness alone

splashes forever from the gash.

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Akhim Yuseff Cabey is originally from the Bronx, N.Y., and now works and lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and daughter. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Obsidian II, Callaloo, Sweet, Rough Copy, Kweli, The Sun, and The Frozen Moment, an anthology. In addition to being a five-time recipient of the Ohio Arts Council's Individual Excellence Award, he is also a 2009 Pushcart Prize-winning essayist. Currently, he is working on his first full-length collection of poetry about white supremacy, titled The Late Heavy Bombardment, and his golf game.

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