The Poetry Portal

In this installment of our ekphrastic writing series, poet-performer Akeema-Zane commemorates the intimacy of ritual practice in her meditation on the symbol of ASHES. If you are viewing this on a small screen or phone, you may wish to read the poem here in this pdf that preserves the formatting.

Nonsecular Non sequitur
By Akeema-Zane


in the cypher before time/ became, i traveled
beyond/ the Black sea settled/ before change
came/ before i knew i could feel/ myself outside
myself/ i smeared salt water/ peering out of my
pores/ on my tongue/ before i ran/ across the
bordering/ land mass of the Ganges/ begging for
mercies/ at its shores


Pedro de Alvarado/ rode adjacent/ toward
my back/ his back parodied/ the tail of the
iron horse/ his wrists accessorized/ in
presbyterian hospital tags/ a man, flesh/ of
unpasteurized goat’s milk,/ hair of corn silk/
stood above him projecting/ a DACA
infomercial/ from his jocote shaped face


exiting in Little Africa/ a Femme Wolof du
Cayor/ skin of used copper/ approaches me
just/ after barely beating the mouth/ of the
closing doors of steel/ her cascading linen
mouseaur/  styled to shame my own/
effort-less gold dubi pins/-an offering to the
Akan-/ black spandex headcovering,/ a
matted hair/ woolike underneath to mask
the sweat/ turning scalp to buildup/ unveiling
me with her eyes/ alone she asked/ frenetic
in her bass/ “hairbrading Miss?”


a woman, my shadow/ reflection seated
before me,/ sat composed, fighting/ the
melody of rebellion/ chords in her elbows,/
her wrists lay curled/ and fingers faced her
chin,/ she wore a black spandex/ dress,
whose seams she constantly stretched/
toward her knee/ she made adjustments as
I did my falling/ sweatpants, ether and
threaded/ in gold, she mouthed/ a tall tale to
me/ of men pulsing their breath/ into the
back of her throat/ one hand chastising her
neck/ palm to palm/ until her brain went


“poetry is a coded language”/ my baba told me once/ the
sink covered in his locks/-they turned to ash-/by an electric
blade/Earth People did suffer too long/ their acres burning
wild/ fiyah bun out de bush for babash/ “White Oak rum is
all we drinking now;/ de coup, done/ and de hill people
have all fallen/ ill to St. Ann’s”/ i and i watched my
reflection/ through his in the mirror,/ my eyes watered/ as
old rusted pipe water washed/ away his sins/  never to be
born again.


Akeema-Zane is a multidisciplinary artist. Her artistic methodology is using intersectionality to configure  a practice that centers the literary, cinematic and performance traditions. The aforementioned has included being artist-in-residence, student and fellow at Groundation Grenada, Cave Canem, The Maysles Documentary Center. She has also displayed visual works in various exhibitions, performed in short films/music videos and plays, and most recently published liner notes to album Conjur Woman. Additionally she has collaborated with various musicians, and is featured on the album and short film BRWN . Her published work include There's a Monopoly on Change, On Being the Daughter Discovering the Home of her Descendants… , Interlude, and When Money Can't Buy You Home. She is of Afro-Caribbean descent and is a native New Yorker.