poem in parts – Michigan Quarterly Review

poem in parts

Published in Spring 2024 Online Folio

the wind licks my knuckles          again     again

a church bell mouths out           another hour        now a memory

the park loses its fullness     

the last two boys playing catch leave as i pass

i stand inside the yellow light      pouring smartly

out of a street lamp  

it digs my skin      guilts me like judas

                                                            “lord, how many times shall i forgive my brother?”

i haven’t forgiven my sister     for leaving—         

migrant worker   picking cotton    in dubai      

mother will find out when she reads this poem

my mother is the negotiator between me and her husband

on my flight to brussels          a man faints beside me

he looks like my mother’s husband         my father      

i want to cling to his body          i am afraid 

i have never locked my father’s hands with mine

the space between us crosses borders   

follows me here

This piece is from our Spring 2024 African Writing Online Folio, an online-exclusive extension of our special issue, “African Writing: A Partial Cartography of Provocations,” guest edited by Chris Abani. You can read more from our Spring 2024 issue, available for purchase in print and digital forms here.

Jeremy Teddy Karn is a Liberian poet and an MFA candidate at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His chapbook, Miryam Magdalit, was selected for New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Nane) (2021) by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani. His poems have appeared in LolwePoetry WalesThe Adroit JournalThe Penn ReviewtrampsetThe Ilanot Review, and elsewhere.

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