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Harpies, Faggots, Syrens,

Black Penelopes by another

name, the unsung at the other end

of the phone,

“beautiful,” beautiful


Kept, waiting, golden silhouette

drizzled down the middle of the

unmade bed that smells like

tensed manhood. Shimmering, sweaty, it’s july,

you lie naked beneath Adidas shorts,

sensing every quake through

your bed, preying. Cleansing yourself of

sin with fleets at the gate to this,

your temple. A massage

with this tongue left you

here, until his return. You

sacrifice a few first borns

on their knees in his stead and

wonder how you and Samson both

lost power when it was you who

made your cut?


Incense to the wood,

lavender and lilac candles

blown into wisps, you

put on just hints of that

sexy citrus cologne with a promise

to save some. But for whom

do your bangles chime? Brother to brother,

jewelry ain’t no use when it’s this dark,

Willow februaries looking for Sunlight,

the film.

The way he used to snap Calvin drawers

against your waist, and your tongue

tripped upwards to explain how breaking pains turn

to collapsing pleasures because your eyes landing against

his, you’re stuck at 16:02pm in the city, feeling particularly small,


in stars.


KEENAN TEDDY SMITH was born in Flint, Michigan, and is working as a research assistant at Columbia University’s Center for Ethnic Studies. His writing has appeared as prose in PAPER Magazine, The Advocate, and RaceBaitr, while his poetry has appeared in Holler Magazine, American Chordata, and T: the New York Times Style Magazine among others. His writing expands on the vocabulary of the aesthetics of Black queer men, reimagining their often stigmatized sexuality through works which help build an aesthetic vocabulary for Black queer family, love, and imagination.


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