Afro Latinx Poetry Issue – Malcolm Friend

Malcolm Friend

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El Conde Sings “Babaila”
*Opening line from Luis Palés Matos’s “Majestad negra,” from Tuntún de pasa y grifería

Every breath I swallow is another specter,
corpse compressed into my lungs
until I spit it back out in song-
guarachar means trumpet bodies out of caskets.

Corpse compressed into my lungs,
reminder someone will spit me out one day.
Guarachar means trumpet bodies out of caskets
and what’s a casket but the back of a mouth?

Reminder someone will spit me out one day?
Have you ever heard a prieto sing,
wonder what’s a casket but the back of a mouth,
place where every suena rests?

Have you ever heard a prieto sing?
Every breath I swallow is another specter.
Place where every suena rests
until I spit it back out in song.

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