Bless You, Nina Simone

Akhim Yuseff Cabey
| poetry


for going upside my head with the seared black
on both sides sound of your voice that night I got high
off you with a mythological kind of white girl
whose own R&B vocals conjured childhood images
of leather jackets and pregnancy. she rocked straight-back cornrows
whose ragged edges she alleged were punishment
for enmity she possessed for her tribe’s consonant-drenched
ancient last name. but you, she said, I digs. I believed I was in love
when she gutted a .99 cents cigar with a stiletto fingernail
then filled its skeletal shell with some dank-ass-fire
named in your honor. she lit it and hit it twice before shot-gunning
paraphrases of you into my mouth. but I’d never known you
this way: fed over the tongue and down the throat
to be confined in the lungs until ejected through the air
in caricatured gusts. I’ve lost more than just flesh
grasping in the dark for the slippery muscle of agency
combined with toe-curling orgasm. was that you, woman,
banging that frying pan omen against the wall of my brain
when she began to sing your classic hit then spasm-coughed
her way through the high note? I can’t be sure, but when paranoia
kicked in, I snatched up what was left of you and fled
for the streets and into an apparition of a man and woman
pressed together, hips buckling to your crispy groan,
sweet smoke in the air, a serious voice whispering, boy—
best keep them ears fixed to what you hearin right here.

Akhim Yuseff Cabey is a Pushcart Prize-winning Black author whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Shenandoah, The Florida Review, Indiana Review, Solstice, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. He lives and teaches in Columbus, OH.

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