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POETRY / The Amistad's Cargo Shames the Devil / Khalypso / Writer of the Month

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somewhere back east, underwater; shuffling
through silt, unmolding clay, freezing water

is a pair of chains picked clean 
of all debris.
             the cargo it clung to someone’s dead mother
             a hollow pair of eyes. 
shamanistic in their paranormal vengeance 

and you wonder 
why the Titanic sank
             how Amelia went missing 
why the water is cold. 

did you know bones hold oceans? that my people trembled with the spirits of gods that danced to the rhythm of every name that has claimed a white child?

super predators, you can call us. 
   sharks, if it soothes you. You; 
all land legs and scurvy.
                  You; who tossed us over the sides of ships and then had the audacity to pray for calm winds like we would not take your blood. your vomit. your wives. your children. You. who tied chains to waves,          declared war on the winds when they took the side of my people and you think we won’t swallow you too?  

You think a legacy of putting your hands where they do not belong won’t get you snatched up.
            My people. 
You think they do not know how to rise just because you have always chained them to things that         sink? 

Do you hear that roaring of the waves, cracking and splicing of the winds? Do you see the tide rising and leveling eyes with your children, spraying blood mist all over their faces? 

We are coming. Like a good storm after a sailor steals a victory fuck.
                         Like a symphony of rattling chains. 
                         Like your legacy—algae, rusted anchors, the bloated bodies of dead brown claimed by your fathers’ teeth. 

We are coming. For you.

Pray that drowning is the mercy you are bestowed. Pray that your flesh is transposed into something worthy of redemption—a sea flower, the lush plump legs of a dungeness crab on a seafood buffet,

Pray that you never become what you made me.

Forgotten. Forsaken.

originally published in Calamus Journal


Khalypso is a Sacramento-based actor and poet. They are fat, black, neurodivergent, queer, and an agender badass. Their work can be found in Cosmonauts Avenue, Rigorous Journal, , and Shade Journal, as well as a few others. Their chapbook manuscript, THE HOTTENTOT LIGHTS THE GAS HERSELF, was a runner up for the 2018 Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize. They are the 2019 Sacramento Youth Poet Laureate and you can find them on Twitter at KhalypsoThePoet.