issue 32 poetry


Or How to Honor Thy Mother

by Diamond Forde

Extraction or Inception by Charles Adesanmi Adedeji

Or How to Honor Thy Mother


4 sweet potatoes swollen with sun
¾ cup of brown sugar (molasses clung)
1 c of white sugar
1 cinnamon dash
nutmeg (just a splash)

1 stick butter, split into pats
2 fresh eggs
¼ c of buttermilk
one greased dish


  1. Cleave the potatoes’ summery rind, then cube
    them till the roots forget an earth once whet against it,
    small enough that the tuber’s flame could’ve been anything:
    a carrot, or a cardinal leaned obedient beneath the blade.
  2. Blister then mash (your tongue
    against your mastered teeth. When Momma fell behind
    on the wash, you’d do it, knew to
    route the sopping rags through the ringer to dry—.)
  3. Pack in butter, sugar, and spice—
    like Momma packed the washroom with violets,
    gardenia gutted from the garden, bees
    on the leathery leaves obedient
    to a single queen—
  4. Fold like eggs Fold in eggs then empty
    the mix in a well-greased dish
  5. Bake until a thick crust scars
    the top (of your finger:
    caught in the mangle—a machine
    that could debone a pinky until it could be anything:
    a carrot, a cardinal and its deep-red throat—)
  6. Bully the butter into sugar, flour, crumble
    in pecans from the yard tree
    you couldn’t climb after Momma told you
    she couldn’t afford the hospital. Remember
    the sickle edge in her stare while you stir—

    the sheets, your finger slipping into the lethal
    mangle’s maw, its rollers feeding
    on your pinky till it flourished

    like a flush-faced zinnia, your sister
    who heard you screaming, pulled the mangle’s cord
    from the socket in the blood-daubed wall,
    & you balled, bawled on the floor

    till Momma returned, then knew to tuck
    your pinky into the pocket of your mangled hand, reassured her
    you would finish what you started—this recipe,
    the one thing owned
    in a body that was never really yours.

Diamond Forde’s debut collection, Mother Body, is the winner of the 2019 Saturnalia Poetry  Prize. Forde has received numerous awards and prizes, including a Pink Poetry Prize, a Furious  Flower Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the 2022 Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University. A Callaloo, Tin House, and Ruth Lilly Dorothy Sargent  Rosenberg fellow, Forde’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Obsidian, Massachusetts  Review, and more. She serves as the interviews editor of Honey Literary, the fiction editor of  Nat. Brut, and she lives in Asheville with her partner and their dog, Oatmeal.

Charles Adesanmi Adedeji is a self-taught ballpoint pen artist with a focus on exploring mental health, Africanism, and being African in this new age.