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.