Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

E. Hughes

African American griot (2)


We boil our grief into a pot of gumbo, hot
with the bones of slave croons,
the tendrils of cotton thorns,
the juice of Jim Crow, the okra
of a plumb-colored fist raised
to the heavens, the rice of a preacher
promising a promised land, and the meat
of pulverized black bodies.

We bake our anguish into sweet potato pie, creamy  
with the smashed-up, thick-thighed yams
of a master's whip vibrating black backs,
the butter of Mike Brown's blood
underneath his four-hours dead body
in the street, and the dust of cinnamon
and nutmeg bullets that took both
Tamir Rice and Dr. King. Yes,

we've prepared this meal for
generations, gathering our anger, floating
in an ocean of dead. We cut it, fry it up
crispy as catfish, and anoint it
with Louisiana Hot Sauce.

phone sex with an older boy

The boy on the other end of the line will moan
but you will stay silent, listening to the slimy
slick of his hand on his penis as he imagines you
there with him, that he is pressing it in
your asshole. In the dark, you will lie naked
underneath the blankets you've laid on the floor.
It will remind you of the first bed you did not share,
the one your mother laid for you in the living room
when you were four. You will think about moaning
back at his heaving breath as you walk your fingers
up and down your open thighs, the way prostitutes stalk
sidewalks and corners at night, and you will wonder
if this will make him love you.

E. Hughes is the winner of the Mireyda Barraza Martinez Poetry Prize for Social Justice. She also has published poems in The Basil O' Flaherty and The Wild Word Magazine. She also has poems forthcoming in HumanKind Magazine, Into the Void Magazine, Blue River Review, and The Antigonish Review. In 2016, E. Hughes published essays like "Dear White Evangelicals" and "Poetry of the Body" in Red Letter Christians and on The Twelve Blog. E. Hughes is also an MFA candidate in poetry at California State University, Fresno.