Poems and Texts

Two Poems by Amber Atiya

“mary did you know that your baby boy
will one day walk on water?”

mary did you know in a church
restroom i wash my face
with donated soap?
mary, in the main hall
a woman’s wig luxuriates
at the foot of her cot
white-sheeted on all fours
like some albino and long
snouted predator.
the shelter is one bed short
mary, the cracks
in the corn bread as large
as needle tracks.
we all from ohio, whisk turtle
eggs into cake, save the hens
for deep-frying. us all
on antidepressants. mary
every night at 10pm
we hear a voice say
“lights out.”
and we believe it.


the pulp, a black woman says
is a god-fearing man

the pulp, a stranger says, is a spoiled
deviant. if you could meet the pulp
what would you say, black woman
asks her black daughters. is your father
a grapefruit, a daughter says, that i
like him, that i love him & can i have
a toy please, a daughter says, he comes
from a blessed grove, black mother
says. let’s juice his hands, a daughter
squeals. the pulp’s prayer is full of
vitamin c, black mother says
the pulp’s prayer is gourmet, shipped
from rome, says black mother.
his seeds carry cyanide, a stranger
says. the pulp is a righteous pulp, black
mama hisses trembles fans herself
with a keyfood circular. how far
can he spit, daughter asks, can he
cure diseases, daughter asks. diseases
are just different kinds of sadness
daughter says. i’m anemic—how sad
am i, stranger asks, lace loose. as sad
as a grapefruit, daughters say, mama
been sad for months. maybe her diet
is too acidic, stranger says, more alkaline
less pulp, loose lace. his dress is always
so white, daughter says, where is his
husband, daughter asks, but who’s
gonna walk a fruit down the aisle?

Amber Atiya

Amber Atiya is a multidisciplinary poet whose work incorporates elements of performance, book arts, and visual arts. Her poems and nonfiction have appeared in Boston Review, PEN America, Poets & Writers Blog, Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, and elsewhere. A proud native Brooklynite, she is a member of a women’s writing group that will be celebrating sixteen years in 2018. Her chapbook the fierce bums of doo-wop (Argos Books) is currently in its second printing.

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