sporklet 14

Diamond Forde

Ode To Magic

When it come to sex, don’t test my skills /
cuz my head game have you head over heels, /
give a nigga the chills, have him pay my bills
–Lil Kim, “Magic Stick”


Praise for the anthem that raised me
from a makeshift mattress lumped together
by throw pillows. Basement hook-up


anthem. Anthem of block parties
posted up in a Black & Mild’s hold.
Anthem to remind me there’s value to my hips


in motion, my ass in motion buoys on the mist
in any dewy eye, and that summer
Momma handed me hand-me-down Jordache jeans


and I wore them to sit my denim ass in the bowl
of the neighbor boy’s crotch, what did I own then
but the silver hook of desire reeling me in?


Teens gathered on the transformers till dark,
despite the heat, despite nothing between us
but the angling need to be seen as someone


not cramped six to a one-room apartment,
Momma sleeping each night beside a man
she didn’t love. That summer, the neighbor boy


plucked irises from the sign outside our complex
for a chance to rest his hand on the copper
pennies of my brown, growing breasts—


I learned then all the trinkets a body
can conjure:  private jets, Tiffany silverware
sets, a pallet in a place to call home.


At the zoo, beneath a sky of confetti mist,
three elephants pace their own little Africa


in Alabama. Beyond the grass coughing
its last green, an unseen speaker pumps


a steady sycophantic chant behind Congo
drums. Even Ajani, the only other mammal


I’ve singled out, must know
this sound does not belong in the dust


beneath his feet. Desperate to unearth
this sound, Ajani grinds his tusk into the naked


husk of tree beyond him. Meanwhile,
his dick chalks circles in the dirt,


a pendulum dependent on red
earth, Ajani grunts


forward and phallic in his frenzied
bout of bark destruction. How do I tell him


they are removing the unnecessaries, too?
Or that while watching the knotted mass


of his back lift to chip, I, too, broke Ajani
to the small sum of his mating parts,


laughing at the absurdity of how quick
an elephant can break down to his dick—


would Ajani laugh, too, if he knew?
Toot a chuckle from his trumpet trunk


then slide, so smooth, his backside
against the tree behind him?


Could Ajani do what I have always
been afraid to: stand erect and baring,


the body too whole to be broken. Tell them.
Go ahead. Take exactly what you want.

Three Lessons on the Adolescent Body

Lit by the hazy noon sputtered through our grade school panes, we file
into the gym, squeak a thrum of rubber shoes—


what holy racket. Our voices—
the hallowed harangue of small gods witnessing


power. We skip, indifferent to our leaping legs. Our feet
slam lacquer, scuff omens       of floorboard ash.


In a game, we build lines from linked arms, construct ourselves
a fence to wreck   

again    again.   We, children. So destructive.             


So miraculous.




Beside me, Blonde Girl studies the field of fuzz blooming my bare arms. We’re ten. I’m a soldering gun. My elbows cinder to ash. Her mouth—thunder and steel—teeth flickering flint—straight-razor slitting her tongue, the click-wit in her throat unsheathes, says you should shave that, then slings up her own skin for scrutiny—smooth-white, the belly of an airplane buffed by clouds.


We are headed somewhere.




The first time I ask Momma if I can shave
she lifts her jeans, reveals
the teeming tabernacle of her own legs,
dark hairs bowed in prayer.


Trust me, sweetie, she says, no man will care,
then sees the smoldering hesitation still
coaled in my eyes, so offers to raze
my body’s curls with her clipper set.


When I tell her no, it’s not because I have learned
to bear my bristles, but because
to remove a part of myself feels like admitting
god made a mistake when she made me.

Diamond Forde’s debut collection, Mother Body, is the winner of the 2019 Saturnalia Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in 2021. Diamond has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Pink Poetry Prize, the Furious Flower Poetry Prize, and CLA’s Margaret Walker Memorial Prize, and Frontier Poetry’s New Poets Award. She is a Callaloo and Tin House fellow, whose work has appeared in Massachusetts Review, Ninth Letter, NELLE, Tupelo Quarterly and more. Diamond serves as the assistant editor of Southeast Review. She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University and holds an MFA from The University of Alabama. She enjoys fish, grits, and R&B.