after “The First Time You Hold a Gun”

My mother’s heartbeat
the first time I heard a baseline.
Her womb, the first room I danced in.
How did it go again?
Kick cloud-soft twirl
dark gulf
neon on my clay brain.
Kick . . . Then
the melody drops
& her vocals come in.


There will be strife,
burnt days, a God
besides me
sex & crueler colours
than the abyss
but there will be this.

Copyright © 2023 by Caleb Femi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.