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OFFICIAL FORM by Naima Yael Tokunow

Plan to marry

Go to the county records office

Wait in line until the security guard beckons you

Raise your right hand and swear to an apathetic clerk

Raise your right hand and turn eyes at your partner

Use white out to correct

Use white out to correct incorrect form data

Learn that you cannot keep your maiden name and add a new one

Mourn that familiar designation’s good sound

Repeat your new name to yourself

Your partner’s father has beautiful hands

Knuckles like balloons, fingers crowed

Your partner will leave his “New Surname” section blank

Look at him and sadden a bit that he is a man

Love the things that man him but still

How will they know your queerness now

Femme that you are

How hard it was to be seen before this

Even as you made hands on a lover’s body

at the dyke night dance party

You love him and also

say often: I would kill every man

Including you, if I had the power

Sadden that this is not yet a love poem

Pay one hundred and some odd dollars to the clerk

Forget if you ordered a copy of your certificate

Later, order another one so that you can become

Yourself on your goddamn social security card

How easy it is to be old and white and have a cane

Think that to yourself in the social security office

How different it is from the benefits office

No babies

So many men with hands like your father-in-law

You’re married now

Did you not mention that?

You got married to your partner, wore a red dress

You felt like a god, drunk on nothing

At some point you noticed you had no shoes on

The palms of your feet were sticky with some little flower

The sap of its nectar

And isn’t that love

And isn’t that murder

The flowers and their dead gummed lips

They were not meant for the palms of your feet

But you are a god called by a new prayer

This is your marriage

This is your name

God that you have become

Flower-footed that you have become

Watching the death of that different you

Her, with shoes on and some other name


NAIMA YAEL TOKUNOW (neé Woods) is an educator, writer and editor, currently living in the New Mexico. Her work (and life) focus around interrogating black femme identity & privilege, social justice and black futurity. She is the author of the chapbook, MAKE WITNESS, published in 2016 by Zoo Cake Press. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a TENT Residency Fellow & has attended The Home School workshop. She proudly edits the Black Voice Series for Puerto del Sol. New work is published or forthcoming from Bayou, Glittermob, Nat. Brut, jubilat, Diagram and elsewhere. She is blessed to be black and alive.


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