I don’t feed my skin enough

good things even though I talk about it

all the time I don’t feed it good things at all


I worry sometimes that I’ll be killed

and I’ll be ashy then too my skin won’t do anything

by itself then and maybe somebody will worry


and in cremation I’ll become ashes which is different

I’ll be burned right through the bone

and I won’t have to see all of my somebodies


I worry sometimes that I’ll die before graduation

because someone killed me in all of my browned

inches and I never really thought I could be killed


I always though my pretty would save me

flash dimple and toss hair and not die

and maybe it’s shameful to say that out loud


because every black body, moments before becoming

dead were exquisite and they weren’t saved

I never imagined that I could be truly hurt


because of all this education until a man

didn’t ask me for credentials when he threw me against a wall

with his gun and badge just watching and itching


I used to ask myself all of these self-pitying questions

but I try to remember I don’t feed myself

enough good things so I’m changing


the question I am bless I am bless I am

bless which is more of a burning out of all the ways

I have been taught to leave my body hungry


I took a bath and rubbed myself in oil and rubbed

until circulation turned my underskin pink

and purple and cherry and brown

Naima Yael Tokunow (neé Woods) is an educator, writer and editor, currently living in the New Mexico. Her work (and life) focus around interrogating black femme identity & privilege, social justice and black futurity. She is the author of the chapbook, MAKE WITNESS, published in 2016 by Zoo Cake Press. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a TENT Residency Fellow & has attended The Home School workshop. She proudly edits the Black Voice Series for Puerto del Sol. New work is published or forthcoming from Bayou, Glittermob, Nat. Brut, jubilat, Diagram and elsewhere. She is blessed to be black and alive.