I.S. Jones is a queer American Nigerian poet and music journalist. She is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole and holds fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT Writer’s Retreat, and Brooklyn Poets. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, Washington Square Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hobart Pulp, The Rumpus, The Offing, Shade Literary Arts, Blood Orange Review, and elsewhere. Her work was chosen by Khadijah Queen as a finalist for the 2020 Sublingua Prize for Poetry. She is an MFA candidate in Poetry at UW–Madison as well as the Inaugural 2019-2020 Kemper K. Knapp University Fellowship recipient. Her chapbook Spells Of My Name is forthcoming with Newfound in 2021.
SELF-PORTRAIT OF THE BLK GIRL BECOMING THE BEAST EVERYONE THOUGHT SHE WAS
By I.S. JonesAdded: Friday, February 19, 2021 / Used with permission. Previously published in "Hesperios Journal."
the moon is my first emotion then beast then happy rage
depending on a zealous appetite
i pull bobby pins from the kitchen of my scalp tear out nails
one by one pluck out the lashes yank docile teeth
fold the skin back by the mouth i release my human flesh & night drops
blue wolves circle the block in acute madness
dreaming in gun smoke & new names to pick their fangs clean
the moon sways blood & voices behind yellow eyes,
each of the names bow inside me.
i grin & the moon is an anxious pulse i, a hungry one
in overexposure, the moon could make anything feral
i only eat a macabre light & the night is so sweet on my tongue
fear makes the blue wolves multiply
the moon rummages through the light of my name like a vagrant beggar
tills the blood in my four-legged body
born non-white & woman, call the thing what it is:
hostile uppity neck-rolls hips without the logic mean-mugs vengeful at the root
but you’ve only known my mercy
a snatched tongue: polite hands: crossed legs: a settled throat: plea and please two hands on the same body
never my unhinged joy
in my first language—the cease of blood before writhing—
the push back
knuckling of bone & sinew a blue neck caught inside a maw & how each muscle negotiates
god of the faithful night, teach me to lose my mouth in reverie
to laugh in my predator’s blood to let it fill my belly
how it trickles through the floorboard of my teeth
Listen as I.S. Jones reads "SELF-PORTRAIT OF THE BLK GIRL BECOMING THE BEAST EVERYONE THOUGHT SHE WAS".