Khaya Osborne

“Ode To All The Children I’ll Lose In Pursuit of Just One”


to the bleeding soft/ to the rose that died on its vine

before it was even alive/i love you


your body

stressed to the axis of non-existence

my expectations crushed your

not beating heart

too big/ to love something so


to be loved/ by anything so 



i hear your cries in my sleep/ i rock your dusty crib with trembling hands

i shake your father from his sleep / wondering what he’ll think of me/ when we finally cross paths 

and chaos-swirl you into almost-breath

he had better be good with blood

       and bad/ with hope

i clutch at air trying to reach for your tiny fingers

soft as carrots

pluck your potential names from

the bottom of my chin and crook of my neck every Saturday afternoon

Pluck P, Pluck C, Pluck O, Pluck S

Pluck Hirsutism, Pluck Preeclempsia

Pluck 2 to 3 times more likely to lose you 

In Utero

for such a common condition in women

i’m surprised you do not have a simpler

way of getting here 


i abstain from your soft, thin cooing at every meal/

i carry you/ everywhere but the one place you can be/ you can’t stay where i ask you to sleep

and it fills me with such fury/ i now understand why my mama thought/ whoopins would teach me how to breathe

your crib in me

my lips, my chest, my glassy leaking eyes

my bitten fingernails, my curved bones, my swollen flesh


i have stressed myself to hollow home

an uncushioned bassinet for your chubby skin

to curse/ you haunt me,

gurgling cries over my shoulder/ phantom limbs that brush my cheek like a bathtime tantrum


i have stressed myself to your death

i have stressed myself

unworthy, unbleeding

unbodied, unwelcomed

to being your mother


may you forgive me

this simple mind, this simple black girl,

desperate/ to bleed for your ripe

desperate/ to be your lifeline

     to be somebody’s mama

              to hold you and call you something / plumeria-scented and a violent shade/ of tenderly kissed 


in my dreams/ i am holding you to my chest and you are nursing/your eyes,

an indiscriminate shade 

of brown/ blink up at me and you are trusting 


                you are soft


          you are finally all the hassle/ and its worth i worked hard for


and then 


the lights go out


my arms close around nothing

my trembling lips

porcelain tears/ are the only anything in the room fixed around


a newly useless brown nipple


you are nowhere


forgive me/ for swallowing you in darkness / before the light could ever reach your eyes

“Infertility: Spotting It In Others Now”


They say/ it rests in the belly of 5 to 10 percent / of US Women/

/That couple who can fuck/ at any given week even though the boyfriend’s hemophobia excused him from a dissection in Bio/ The girl who retweets all the same baby videos as me/ always adds a little heart and crying emoji/The woman whose Twitter Feed is unrefreshed on April Fool’s Day/The girl who keeps an extra bottle of FDS/ in her backpack, tucked between her AVID folder, several empty water bottle

a pack of waxing strips


Friends/ who never ask for tampons

Friends/ who do not discuss marriage

Friends/ who are good at holding things in/good at retaining information/ good at never discussing the future


The girl who sits/ in the back of Economics class/ plucking at her throat

Exasperation painted across her features/ A silent ‘You again? Back so soon?’/ The woman/ in line behind me at Walmart/ with a wedding ring on/ and a short phone call with her mother/ in which she is the only one asked after 


and me/ how i did not bleed for nearly a year/ how everything i ate tasted like someone else’s funeral/ how i could not stop growing patches of stubble in all the manly places my father takes the time to attack before work


how i/ instinctually/ stopped incorporating the future into my vocabulary/

no more/ someday

no more/ soon

no more/ next week

no more/ tomorrow 


no more/ promises

“Fishbelly Insides”


it’s still gon be a white girl disease to me


this black skin refusing to be soil

just means it must have been



this sadness

that makes me crawl into bed and play

Duffy/ Katie Castello/ Adele/ Alex Parks

this white girl shit

this being empty

this hollow church

      hollow body

      that has forgotten how to bleed


nothing black forgets how to bleed 


this diagnosis

this long line of grandmothers cut short

       like a tree stump

this gentrified suburb/ this sunburn/ this burn/ this heat


this decimation/ this holy land

this tundra

this empty, this empty, this empty


it dances without rhythm

seasons everything it eats with the herbs/ of a people it does not know

prays standing up/ eyes wide open


this hollow

this hollow 

this nothing


it’s white girl shit

it’s unyielding/ i guess/ chronic 

a tender whistle tossed into the mississippi air

and plucked from the lungs of a black boy

any black boy/ a shepherd/ of his early homegoing


this vengeance 

this divine intervention 

telling me/ do not bring a child into this world/ you will never have what they need


that’s white girl shit

Khalypso is a 17 year old poet and actress born in Berkeley, CA and
currently residing in Elk Grove, though she will always rep South
Sacramento. Her work centers primarily around charting the complicated
existence of being colored and woman and alive—a metaphysical dilemma
she wishes she could conquer and whose defeat she would whisper the
secrets of into Ntozake Shange’s ear. Her work has been published in
or is forthcoming in The Rising Phoenix Review, The Columbia Review,
Crab Fat Magazine, and Vending Machine Press.