Published on Academy of American Poets (

Undelivered Message to the Sky: November 9, 2016

You were in my dream last night. Titanic falling.
Every cop siren pocking your blue. Shots fired
fired far above my head by trembling men, and then
a terrible rain.          Still, you sank,
and all the creatures bowed—except the humans.
We broke ourselves screaming, but there was no sound.
In that silence, something wicked came aloud.
Before you landed, nothing left but littered,
gaping mouths. When I woke up,

I felt it. A twitching in my teeth.
The rumble of a nearby rapture. I opened the blinds
and a pack of white women were wailing down Maple,
crying into potholes, writhing in the street
like worms. One saw me, then the wails grew
and turned into a chorus of sorry sorry sorry
so sorry we’re sorry and I wished Yemoja
would sling an ocean out my throat. But all I had
was English—blindfolds, trick knives,
no real magic. Nothing in their language
makes them disappear. That’s why the guns
and cages. Why they cut our tongues. Because
we would call, and you would come.


Copyright © by Kemi Alabi. This poem originally appeared in Boston Review, December 2019. Used with permission of the author.


Kemi Alabi

Born in Wisconsin in 1990, Kemi Alabi earned their BA in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University. Their first full-length poetry collection, Against Heaven, was selected by Claudia Rankine to receive the 2021 Academy of American Poets First Book Award. They live in Chicago.

Date Published: 2019-12-01

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