The Unmaking of a Savior and other poems by Khaya Osborne

i am an unsovereign, yet abandoned nation. my capitols have all their own names but look the same: faceless, skin thin as the lesions left by raw flax leaves,

their cheeks as rosy as charcoal & voices muffled by the beating of wings, asking me,

momma, are you worthy yet? have you repaid your debts? have you spoken me into existence? have you found a love i can cling to when you fall short and ill and resentful?

& the wax. the tearing. the separation of unwelcome me from desired me like soap shavings snowing their clean into a cold bath or wood chips stuffed down the throats of every man who demanded to know what a coat borne of blisters and devotion felt like.

i am all kinds of bated breath and secret hope. angry flitters and a broken heart threatening—

bitch eat another chip. kiss another mouth naked. i dare you. i will shut all this shit down. you know what the hell has been asked of you. how dare you desire a child before you save a brother?


i am some split between wicked enchantress and helpless damsel; an hourglass tipped onto its side and rolling downhill into an eternal tailspin, graceful as any mating dance where one party is unwilling, and

i’ve never been
anything but this. this tremor. this smudge going on smoke going on curse. this eternal clean stitch and tired hand. brow painted by sweat and consternation. but                                          i’ll look damn sexy while i’m doing it.

to the witch that trapped me in this empty, i am coming for you. i’ll look like something you won’t ever forget: a twirling nightmare of chrome pink & twisted lip & peach fuzz belly & peach shaped belly & and big breast

& and loud mouth & disobedient & disobedient & disobedient & disobedient & disobedient & disobedient

i am no longer looking after brothers
who can’t be bothered to look after themselves.

which makes all your berating useless
who you lookin at’s & who the fuck you think you talkin’ to’s & fuck you’s—you cannot hold me hostage with your reckless laughter and egregious grief anymore. if i am to craft a salvation mighty enough to rescue this bloodline through the hand of some man, let him come through a thicket in the woods, and lift your hex to the sky where you cast my brothers for damnation so that i can be the vessel of my dreams.

they no longer surrender to any flag; they are a fraternity of sharp wind and open sky.

let me be queen
let me never lift a finger again
save to caress my best creation

you have set my brothers to some kind of freedom they could make a home in,

give me mine.


What You & Mangoes Have In Common

i have dipped my fingers
into an overripe body—all sweet gristle and stench—and called it healing, self-care, subsistence.
you, my dear, are no different
I have loved you both to your cores,
tried to swallow the bitter pits your
pulps orbit, even as I was coughing up blood, throat sliced in the shape of the palm of your hands or a crucifix, even as I was surrendering this delicate skin to showers of white rank—I could still convince myself
that this would help me understand you better.

my love
our hands are sticky with
our merciless feast, or
my blissful denial, or
your selfishness, or
your neglect, or
your lies, or
maybe it’s just simple

maybe this is what she meant
when she told me you are not the type
to let yourself be consumed

because, see,
i have torn the skin of every kind
of you i have ever encountered,
seeking solace or any other kind of
mercy that drips onto the tips of tongues
just to find
meat, spoiled
and a pit, sharp and unyielding
as ever



What Mama Told Me About Moving


every deathless night,

we call this a town


the grass shudders under the weight of

only dewdrops, anticipating no kind of

outward pumping blood & chalk

has only seen doe-eyed children’s games. Here

bodies only know release and nobody’s

baby crawls from the barrel of a

featherless cannon, boneless and wailing

foul play. Mothers may mourn for

distance but their grief still walks

for there are no bodied soils here. The

ground, here, is no thief. All flesh

comes willingly under the watchful eye

of a moon holy as doves.


This is as close to promised land

our accursed flesh will ever come


So go



In Which My Period and My Ex-Boyfriend Speak The Same Language


my fingers have never known clean since then.

Not for a year and a few rapid footsteps now.

in the morning,

i drag the Nair bottle from the bathroom cabinet,
map my way around all of God’s mistakes

and your wreckage, only growing, mold long
ago cracked and dissipated into a flock

of pill bottles, eager to build their cocoons
before the night comes. as much

as i’ve tried to coax you out, i can admit
that the same grievances will be raised

with your arrival. that much has remained
the same. that much i cannot fight for.

at the kitchen table, there is an array of
armaments designed to starve you out

from your cave so you can be dragged back
into place; thin as a wisp of cotton and

eager to drip onto my bedsheets, my floor,
my lovers. i have not missed you, but your




For The Father of My Phantom Children


The only sweet kisses you gave me,

Were borne from fever dreams.

Deafening as your lies have been lately,

so is your love it seems.


Borne from fever dreams,

are the empty children I begged for.

Your love, it seems,

has left me more than sore.


The empty children I begged for;

the sons have your eyes and lips, it

Left me more than sore,

When they crumbled in my womb like sunken ships


The sons have your eyes and lips;

The daughters have my smile, their only wisdom.

When they crumbled in my womb like sunken ships,

You, reaper of heartbreak; I knew you wouldn’t miss them


The daughters have my smile, their only wisdom—

Deafening—as your lies have been lately.

You reaper of heartbreak, I knew you wouldn’t miss them—

The only sweet kisses you gave me.



“Khalypso is an 18 year old poet and actress born in Berkeley, CA and currently attending Sacramento City College. She is the Social Media Manager of Black Napkin Press and Poetry Editor of Cerurove Magazine as well as Culaccino Magazine. 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. She has been published in or is forthcoming in WusGood Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Vending Machine Press, Glass: A Journal of Poetry and Calamus Journal. She will rep South Sac ’til her dying days and likes to troll racists on the internet. Sean King is her hero.”