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Deshawn McKinney: Expiation and Taboo


from the neck
++++++ down
+++ art basel
he plans +++++++++tagged train car
++++++++++++++++++liquor store mural
Basquiat the flesh to liberate the flesh

++++++++++++++++++this is how prey lives to oral history
+++hair too ++++++if rose do grow
from concrete +++++++++when plucked
surely it can +++stretch +++++++++from potholes
+++rainforest itself, ++++++++++++++++++thick
+++++++++arms and
+++++++++delicate fingers,
+++++++++tunnel into
+++++++++the clouds
+++++++++in search of
+++++++++silk to breathe
+++++++++++into safely
to atmosphere itself +++++++++into permission
+++for whoever has been waiting for

Basquiat the flesh like maybe Heaven is a gallery: this is how prey lives to pray on itself



Okay I see you! Chillin, witcha toes all out!

my neighbor, shouting from the curb
in celebration, to me, on the stoop.

three months into quarantine
it translates as I, too, have things to reclaim:

I know somebody who tells me things
like her booty is gettin bigger, and I wonder
if she has baked more peach cobblers than me;
she posts protest videos on IG captioned “What’s your kink?”
and we lol because we are tired and dying old is an act
of resistance we plan to fulfill, like eating the whole
peach cobbler, straight from the pan. +++++++++What’s your
I know somebody whose booty is gettin bigger
but she’s in D.C., so these taboos are
only a game.

Three months into quarantine and I feel myself
slippin into player two of my own life so I start walking—
through the white mud splashed under construction site curbs,
wide step over cracks, lovin my momma too much
to break her back, parallel to a cemetery
where parked cars rock steady
on starless nights, fog-tinted windows saving shameless teens
the voyeurs as they stumble over zippers and bra clasps
—I land in a park that I used to know
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++Grew up around the corner
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++got tried around the corner
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++questioned by police around the corner
I walk in like it’s mine
still take my shoes and socks off at the door
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++(learned my manners around the corner too)
and step in the untrimmed grass,
which has gone blond at the tips.
I walked this mile not knowing why,
I close my eyes and dig

Three months in and I feel myself slippin
into new ways to be
intimate, new natures to hold
me over until. I’d never understood the need,
why lips and feet flirted in bedrooms.
but now?
dry soil crumbles like ashes
sucking my big toe
deeper ++++sinking ++++deeper
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++(to be swallowed at the sole!)
I let the sun kiss me where I don’t like
being touched; I pull out,
watch the dirt tumble
wiggle each toe playfully
remembering a conversation
about how lovers rarely perform sexy.

Three months in I am (re)born bolder,
hungry for this belly I didn’t know
rumbled. My eyes stay closed that day
until the sun sets:

Back on my stoop I respond,
Got to!

She, a chorus,
Alright now!

We take care,
as best we can.

Poems (c) Deshawn McKinney
Image by Sherise wells from Pixabay

Deshawn McKinney
Deshawn McKinney
Deshawn McKinney is a writer proudly reppin the northside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work is steeped in hip-hop and is a means of exploring liberation and the delicate balance of existence. He holds a Master in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master in Creative Writing - Poetry from the University of East Anglia. Deshawn's poetry appears or is forthcoming in the 2019 UEA MA Poetry Anthology, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and on Lolwe.


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