by Alexis Teyie


a staggered release—

out of step, but thankfully,

ever tense, and trembling in concert

(first dead dog: CupCake) —

who is to say you are not

your own mother, nurse?


A sensory key, hammer

is the pin. My hymn: a crumpled

grocery list I discard,



Energy transfer,

kinetic traffic and

think: melodic,

these gilded weapons

of interference, beating,

towards a well-tempered mode.


(First miss-

ing tome: Pushkin.) Again.

Divergent and twin, this

(first limbs out of tune: right

shoulder, left ankle)

lost parent of mine, out of

time (indolent lungs) — you

are permitted a little



first instrument: 

a set of un-

breakable nails; I run them across 

screens, blackboards, dinner plates,

thighs, earth, walls, 


water, that favourite sweater— yes,

log it all as a loss, careless

commerce— there is no accounting for


a name without an owner,

I call it out from inside night’s crease,

this orphaned, liberated name.

I called from within this valley:


It’s so hard to keep our sins

straight, yawning

no no no no, up and



I called to the usual 

ballet of lovers, insisting my way

into this ill-fitting glory. 

Joy, I know, sinks to 

the bottom of any pool.


I follow the will.

Is that a lightness blooming

in me?

Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)


ALEXIS TEYIE is a Kenyan writer and feminist. She is a co-founder and poetry editor with Enkare Review. Alex co-authored a children’s book, Short Cut (2015). She has also published a poetry chapbook, Clay Plates: Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs (2016), through the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books (see on LitHub). Her poetry, short fiction or non-fiction have appeared in collections like Routledge’s Handbook of Queer Studies (2019); 20.35 Africa; Queer Africa II (GALA); ID (SSDA); Water (SSDA); Anathema’s Speculative Fiction. She has also been published by Jalada Africa, Omenana, This is Africa, Writivism, African Feminist Forum, among others. She also works as a data nerd and sings for a secret choir in Nairobi.



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