Moonstruck & Other Poems

Nailah Mathews


the city below is red-wounded         burning.
purple haze fentanyl-laced,             she tap dances on a cliff-face
                                                        the sort of thing you could fall in love with:
can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t right, but                    Good God girl, where off earth
                        Did you                                  Come from?
No more than a baby with a wandering eye
letting two-cent morality                                 from the boy on your right 
goad you into cutting your throat
                                                                                                  for his pictures.
              You were made in better hands than that. 

night thief

sinead o’connor moon, barefoot in eastern ether
shrieks too late to stop what white rogue scorpion
                                                                              racing seven-legged
                        to Joshua tree heaving comets cross the sky
                                                                                                faster than god can blink –
fearsome fingersmith races seven-legged toward me.

Her heart is shrapnel in my lip                           her heart a pelt of gunmetal stars
quivering cold, lonesome as god’s revolver
                                               like mint deliquesced and pooled on the floor of
her mouth, a mouth which inverts all known laws.
                                                          this altitude defangs us, and makes us feral


take me to that infinity     pink ripe with pears                  green with wishing
where birth collapses death                where cataracts never                 bloom
where we covet        one another        like knives
                                                                                                        where summer imploded,
and the ochards ranneth over,                and nine of the seven days
                                                                                                                      we was plagued.
take me somewhere where the teeming meek inherited a rancid earth,
                                                                                      where this poem is not self-conscious 
and has already coughed the water       out of its lungs,
                                                                                                      and is ready to begin where patience begets savagery
somewhere where my sweet tooth                                                is a passing reference
                                                                 to my lack of self-restraint.
                                                somewhere where, with a face like that, you better turn to poetry.

Nailah Mathews is a nonbinary Black poet to whom books and Black lives matter. A 2022 Periplus Fellow, their poetry has been featured in Tilde~A Literary Journal, Lucky Jefferson, Passenger Journal, and Penumbra Literary and Art Journal among others. You can read their work at


*Image by Nick Owuor on Unsplash

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