my joy is a dead language.
cherubs sob when i pass them by
as if my fingers carry the wilt
of baby’s breath. i lie in bed & suddenly
i’m closer to my ghosts.
another boy tells me he loves me &
i cannot look him in the eye. another
mother says, “smile, child,” & the clouds
open up to swallow me whole.

the last time i loved, the words died in my belly.
the sparks quit next, & then the boy.
i say i cannot carry another day & the shadows
rejoice. i say i’m going to love me today
& i can hear laughter.

worry about me. i am not well. a child
has gone missing within me & left
not even detritus. all the things in this world
set to kill me encroach upon
the one smile i can offer a new day.
i have said it once & if i do not say
it again, the tigers clawing the insides
of my brain will never sleep: home is nowhere
when you are a stolen thing. an heirloom of haint
& hate.

KHALYPSO is a Sacramento-based activist, actor, and poet. They are fat, black, neurodivergent, queer and badass. Their work can be found in Calamus Journal, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Rigorous Journal, Wusgood Magazine, and Shade Journal, as well as a few others. They are a Leo-Virgo cusp, they want to be your friend, and you can find them on Twitter at KhalypsoThePoet