Aliyah Cotton

     The Christians are playing
      their anvils again
   outside the Planned Parenthood

  & like the clanging things
  I too am black &
     have been wrought

  & so I grab a mallet
        to beat myself & feel
what it’s like to be heard

& the mallet can’t believe
  what it’s been asked to do
  & the sound I make

is out of tune & untamed,
  is reverb & flame
the way riot is flame,

        the way bloom & bud
          & blood are flame &
    when they stop their play

to watch me like I am the sun
  and might do anything to anyone,
  I realize this is the only way to live.

      To put your voice to song
    and wrap the song in fire.
      That is what is required.

Aliyah Cotton was born in Virginia in 1997. She received her BA from the University of Virginia and her MFA from Boston University. Her work has appeared in Spires, *Q Anthology of Queer Culture, and elsewhere.

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