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Stank Face by Kweku Abimbola

Oh stank face, your origin

begins with rhythm

like the first ever jam session,

somewhere beneath a tendrilled canopy

and near brackish water, because that’s where best

we worship—.

Someone must have hit a mean lick on the drums,

instantly accentuating the umph of a dancer’s

thomping, which in turn compels the flutist

to conjure a riff, and complete the eclipse.

And the nigga on the drums, knowing she’d just made

something cosmic, raises her cheeks, flares her nostrils,

protrudes her lips

the triangle of her features screaming

to her fellow players, yo you seein’ the shit

I just put down?

Then, the balafonist, seeing her stank face

mimics it and flashes his own: you thought that was hot?

peep this. Then bruh went off.

In the same night, the world witnessed

its first two stank faces.

Oh stank face, because you’re so communicable,

I wonder if you are less expression and more spirit.

Benevolent haint, you’re so easily possessed.

Your hosts relinquish their regular speech

in exchange for something long, guttural, monosyllabic:




Thank you for allowing drive-way

dunkers to feel like Giannis

when he drives with his left,

euro-steps through the paint,

spins, and melds his ball-full fist

with the basket.

Thank you especially for possessing twerkers

when they throw it back and bewitch

the twerk-catcher to also yield to the stank.

Thank you for allowing me

to utilize the full girth of my black nose

and gulp the funk of my loves.

Any ode to the stank face is first

an ode to black noses.

Thank you also, stank face, for your decorum

like not possessing those who climax.

Because to stank face after climaxing

is so arrogant as to be rude.

Oh stank face, thank you especially

for allowing me to savor the stench of my

littlest victories:

I wake up, I unsilk my hair

my twist-out is looking right.

I dress. My Ankara is poppin’

my niggas and loves bless my timeline

with memes and black twitter antics.

I hold myself. A spot of sun

dollops my nose as my Spotify rewind

queues up Kontrol by Maleek Berry,

bathing me in summer 16’s serenity,

I shoki, I shaku, I stank face.


KWEKU ABIMBOLA is a second-year MFA poet at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. He is of Gambian, Ghanaian, and Sierra Leonean descent. He is a finalist for the 2021 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, the second-place winner of Furious Flower’s 2020 poetry contest, finalist of the 2020 Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest, and has work published and forthcoming in Shade Literary Arts, The Common, Obsidian, Sunu Journal, and elsewhere. Kweku is presently working on his first poetry manuscript entitled Saltwater Demands a Psalm, where he investigates colonization, black mourning, black boyhood, gender politics, and especially, the spiritual consequences of climate change in West Africa. His chapbook, Birth Elegies, is forthcoming in 2022 with Finishing Line Press. When he isn’t writing he’s probably dancing to Burna Boy or retwisting his hair. You can find him on twitter: @kwxkuu.

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