Keayva Mitchell
April 2021

Keayva Mitchell is a queer Black poet living in Long Beach, California. Her poetry has appeared in Black Napkin Press, Fight Evil With Poetry, Wherewithal Lit, and Incandescent Mind, among others. You can find her at home, trying desperately to keep her plants alive.

               tuesday night marathon of Criminal Minds/after which I cannot turn my lights off


you could fill an entire city with all the dead girls in manhattan/you could fill an entire manhattan/with the tortured men dissecting them/her sidewalk bird body dripping from the lip of a gritty alley dumpster/her slick new trainers sneaking from the underbrush/her delicate hand sweet enough to hold his attention/away from the greenery of her mangled neck/a cold dead woman/ you find/is the perfect pre-chorus to any forty second theme song/a breathless/bullet brimmed/soft body can jumpstart any man’s heart/except the one who put her there/& isn’t justice more important/& don’t her eyes remind him of the way he was happy once/& his vow to avenge her/to unearth her demises comes hard after montage scenes/of dead mothers/& dead wives/if he calls her by name her body might break/into a million other faceless women/a million crumpled shoulders to revive/a dead girl has nothing to do but die & even I cannot name her/when her lashes part in the morning/& she careens into the day/does she stop and wonder why every man’s hand is a pistol/aimed at her chest/does she press herself closer to the barrel instinctively/open herself up neat for her ruin/her death is just a man’s purpose/her humbled wreckage/something to keep a man up at night/an old boyfriend/maybe/a father/a detective she won’t ever really meet//


                                                                                            black girl don’t know how to be angry

the 1st time he touches me it feels like celebrating someone else’s birthday meaning: it feels the way it feels to get a present I’m not expecting on a Thursday in a month with no holidays & it’s a great gift & even if it’s not meant for me & even if it’s being front-seat 1AM whatarewethinking unwrapped the 1st time he touches me I feel like thanking him & I carry his name in the shift of my wanting bones straight into the 2nd time he touches me & it is the 2nd time he touches me that he says black girl & it is the 2nd time he touches me that he says a large part of the reason is & there it is black like his mouth just gave birth wet & sticky between us & black is crying out & black is reaching up with grimy hands to be cradled & for a moment I want to figure out how to kill it how to smother it like black is a noose around my neck instead of my born-from history & it’s my history that he just said he fucked & it’s the aftershocks of my history wracking through my black girl body & pinning me down & I am so goddamn small & the 1st time he touched me the weight of his hands weren’t so heavy & I must still be naïve child to think white boy can see black girl & not notice the difference & difference got me on my back in the 1st place meaning: I thought he was things his mouth told he wasn’t & his mouth is upturned & I betray myself & I betray myself I think I laugh or I think I swat at him or I think I let him sink All-American teeth into the writhe of my tongue & gnaw it away until it’s a blood mess of everything I can’t bring myself to say to him & he was joking he said he was joking & on good days I even believe that he is nothing more than foot-in-mouth pale pink boy really: I even believe that never been with will never again be jackknifed into my black girl chest & leave me gaping open on my furniture but really: black girl don’t know how to be angry with him & not be angry at myself for opening my legs to that kind of oppression meaning: white boy got my mind forever banging against the wall of my body & he still ended up countless & there it was the 2nd time he touched me black pulling at my eyelids & I saw & I did nothing & I have never felt so ashamed of myself & of my black girl body & of how my 1st instinct was to hide & of how my 2nd instinct was to         hang.