Malaika King Albrecht

Malaika King Albrecht
is serving as the inaugural Heart of Pamlico Poet Laureate. She’s the author of four poetry books. Her most recent book is The Stumble Fields (Main Street Rag 2020). She’s the founding editor of Redheaded Stepchild, an online magazine that only accepts poems that have been rejected elsewhere. 

dear hands being made into fists

dear I haven’t hugged anyone in months
dear flash-bang grenade
dear neck. dear lungs       
dear say the name George Floyd 
dear knee. dear rubber bullets. dear      
tear gas. dear bruised. dear choking
dear over 200,000 COVID19 dead
dear crushed. dear protestors
dear know their names. dear list. dear growing list
          (of people of color murdered by police, of Covid dead,
          of extinct animals, of fires, of hurricanes)
dear I can’t breathe                    
dear mr. president. dear photo op with Bible
dear raw heart. dear god   
dear say the name Breona Taylor
dear hungry in your car in line before dawn
          the church ran out of food  
dear horrified . dear I didn’t get
to say goodbye
dear nursing home. dear ICU
dear fire. dear burning. dear nearly                  
5 million acres                                                
          dear buck beaver bobcat and grizzly creek      
dear evacuation orders. dear wind
dear caught on camera. dear stop killing us
dear breathless. dear every word
I say is screaming help
dear extinction. dear biodiversity
dear masks. dear masks             
dear hurricane. dear climate change.
dear everyone. dear all of us. dear sea
of human spines                         
crashing against the shore of this year             

Superstitions About Holding One’s Breath

     As long as you are breathing, there’s more right with you than there is wrong.– Jon Kabat-Zinn

You who have lost the trick of losing
yourself in the forest. You who have forgotten
the secrecy of fiddlehead ferns,
fox grapes, and oyster mushrooms.
You who have burned in endless fluorescence,
neon lights, and shot glasses. You who are
holding your breath
like you’re living in a cemetery—
Come to the yard at night, with your flashlight
aimed into the tangle of grass,
see the eyeshine of dozens of wolf spiders.
Stand until there’s a difference between staring,
being stared at, and seeing light.
Until you feel the difference between inhale,
exhale, everywhere in your body,
until the pauses between every breath
becomes a rest, a shining.


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