Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

I.S. Jones


In my dream, I snap your neck
           because you just wouldn't stop
tormenting me with Baba's love for you,
           saying if you could not make me walk on all fours
you would remind me light
           only passes through holy things
so I say let's go out into the field, sister
           you: in a night gown
flowing like a wave in surrender—
           I say follow & you do because I say my hands
will bring you to closer Baba's glory;
           we walk into the open mouth of dusk,
you holding my hand for the first time
           since we were little & I almost felt my humanity
come back up from the well inside me
           where I pushed it down
because you trusted me to be your shepherd—
           to lead you beside the still waters.
Call me merciless lover. Sister. Equalizer.
           She who plucks weeds before they threatened the harvest;
she who isn't afraid of her gluttonous hands
           when I felt the neck bone give way under my tendering,
I dream of tearing apart the jaw which sings itself holy
           & it felt good to do so.
Your blood fertilizers my harvest  
           & every day I eat like a champion.
you, sister, are the first plague of locusts
           leprosy crawling behind the eyes
yes, Baba, if none of my crops are good enough
           accept this cloven beast
as burnt offering.


The Blk Seuss
(after Terrance Hayes)

Blks on street corners
Blks in hoodies
Blks followed by guns
Blks roast on asphalt
Blk mother's wail pierces heaven
Blk death replays on news
Blks in choke holds
Blks take drag of cigarettes
Blks dragged from cars
Blks dragged to their death
Blk death replays on news
Blk Twitter replays Dolezal's dragging
Blks replayed on Vine
on YouTube
Blks replayed in Blkface
Blk lips remixed on white faces
Blk asses remixed on white backsides
Blk skin in a can  
Blk skin fashionable again
Blks can equal the total sum of blk parts
Blk parts worth millions
Blks worth
Blks can Harlem Shake
Blks can Wobble
Blks can hit the Quan
Blks can Dougie
Blks can Shmoney Dance
Blks can Diddle Shuffle
Blks can Twerk
1 Twerk
2 Twerk
Blks can Whip
Blks can Nae-Nae
Blk can Milly Rock
on any block
Blks can pop
Blks can lock
Blks can pop any lock
Blks can break & enter
Blks catch felony
Blks makes mistake
catches maximum sentence
Blks not met with mercy
Blks on knees
Blks ghosted into hashtag
whites enjoy late brunch while
Blk death replays on news

wild crown

chop me from the neck up
& throw my head to the soft,
welcoming soil.

this is my ablution:
permed edges,
burned forehead,
grown thick as wild crop after rain,
my hair isn't made of undulations,
so i blanketed my scalp in a white god,
pulled out each ancestor's song
until i met a new face in the mirror.
until this god harvested me with its greedy hands.
i was sewn a crown
of head sores & scorched earth & straw.
i look kept & human now;
no one notices my split hoofs
or snout
or the deep bellow in my chest
when my fur is smoothed to someone's perfection.

this is my baptismal:

god of coconut oil
of black castor oil

forgive me my trespasses
bless my barren scalp

return to me back to my beginning
forgive me for undoing your delicate labor

for opening myself to a false god
that will never love me

no matter how many times
i break myself in its image

each new curl howling a war cry
each howl an eviction notice.

this is my ascension:

half root, half glory,
all feral,
nothing that wouldn't snap
the teeth off a comb
& neck for good measure—
all i know is how to break soft things.
i do not know any other way
than to be present
for this homecoming.
i lift my hands in ceremony
to open my scalp for water.
for my curls to bloom onto themselves,
here: i am growing a forest on my head.
here: i am renamed in an ancestor's hymnal.
listening to the rain for my Blkness,
i am a crown of what the heavens come to answer;

watch me king.

I.S. Jones is a spoken word poet in New York by way of Southern California. Receiving an honorable mention from the Academy of American Poets & winner of the "Power Poetry" scholarship, I.S. Jones has been published with The Blueshift Journal, Sundog Lit Review, Chaparral Magazine, Qua Magazine, Chaffey Review, The Northridge Review, and anthologies. She is currently assistant editor of Chaparral Magazine. I.S. is receiving her MFA in poetry.