Not the neck’s calligraphy
or the blade’s singular desire
to divide spirit from flesh,
but Baba, bless this animal
for offering up its blood
and delivering a bounty
of satisfaction, for granting
the hands of the shepherd
her greatest ability to baptize
a nation, to keep bellies full
until hunger comes to my altar
Make me to hear joy and gladness that the bones
I have broken may rejoice. May the soil open
its merciful jaw to consume the beast’s bones as it will consume me one day.
Behold: I was shaped in iniquity and in sin
did my mother conceive me.
Baba, let me rest as this beast rests:
eyes glazed over looking for a heaven
cruel enough to say ‘open’.
from bloodguiltiness, O Baba, God my salvation
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
As I bring down the blade again
let this beast’s teeth
flesh—ignorant flesh—be a reprieve
from death. Either I am
a murder or the field between
grace and mercy.
Let every beast
know its purpose, to lay its neck
upon a slab of surrender.
Let every blade I wield become a fang
of light. May the world always be
so simple and kneel at my command. Amen.
I.S. JONES is an American-Nigerian writer, educator, and music journalist from Southern California by way of New York. She is a fellow with BOAAT Writer's Retreat, Callaloo, and is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole. In 2016, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the Assistant Editor at Voicemail Poetry and Chaparral as well as the Managing Editor of Dead End Hip Hop. Her works have appeared in The Harpoon Review, The Blueshift Journal, SunDog Lit, Matador Review, great weather for MEDIA, Anomalous Press, The Shade Journal, the Black Voices Series with Puerto Del Sol, forthcoming in Nat.Brut Neuro-divergent women folio and elsewhere. She received her MFA in 2016. I.S. is running for Poet Laureate of the Moon.