Chantel’s got no eyes, nose and mouth half as full as mine, head and neck and Other Poems


Amber Atiya

Art by Chris Costan


Chantel’s got no eyes, nose and mouth
half as full as mine, head and neck

on a nightstand. In another country, a woman
with slightly more body than Chantel

is placed in a basket and carried to market.
I missed half the documentary—she wore

a septum ring, bathed in a rusted bucket
by elders. No arms but her teeth were

the whitest I’ve seen, the sky above her village
a cyanotype of clouds. In New York City

a slight limp means carnival music trolling you
the rest of your days. I was destined to be

the inverse of a constellation, clever with scars,
imagine in a past life, learning to speak English

my body leaked propane. Imagine I steered clear
of the sun. Unlike the child born with the trunk

of Ganesh, the folk did not walk miles to worship
my peeling nape. In this life what else

can an untouchable do but command an army
of wigs to defend the virtue of her wounds?


Knock knock Epipen
femme, hey fellatio
hog, orange you prosperous

hustling albuterol
to the wretched wheezing their
way through Mary J Blige?

Knock knock real love
lashes long as hypo
dermic needles.

Orange you glad
to OD on your own bowl
no bulimic

threatening to heave
her quesadilla outside
the shelter restroom?

You wash your left side
with your left hand
with your right swat flies

homing on bras, air
drying on a rack, knock knock
says the fly

on your headwrap.
Bulimics leave the best
gifts says the fly

on your nipple. Orange
you the spitting image
of a thrift store pendant

abuzz with nakedness?
You who kill flight
collect wings and legs

into petals of tissue.
Knock knock trauma pigeon
toed as MJB.

Orange you a lewd
haiku slipped into the flute
holes of a stolen cane?


You trample mums that can't be

plucked and sold in semi dark
ness to your right a rainbow

split its seam, a landslide
of bras femme up a peach

stupefied in juice, a colony
of pharaohs worship

here then vanish
into spalted oak.

Feel for the Wild
Turkey behind two tarot

decks. Knock a Martian
fruit off the shelf

hairy knuckle of kiwi
camouflaged among jasper

rocks. If you want that mug
of tea, quit playing

soldier, turn up
the goddamn light.

You've earned chamomile
and bourbon, suffered the caw

of omens cast by a bird
you hear but never see

like the late Raven who
raised you slamming doors

slipping cloves in toilet water
shaking a maraca of pain

killers, the Reaper’s rattle
primitive as birdsong.


Amber Atiya

Amber Atiya, a supportive housing and women’s rights advocate, is a multidisciplinary poet from Brooklyn. Dig on her poems in the Soul Sister Revue Poetry Compilation, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. Her visual and text-based art/objects have been exhibited at the Knockdown Center, Bessie’s Brooklyn, and Pace University. A 2021 recipient of the Oscar Williams and Gene Derwood Award, she is a member of a women of color arts collective celebrating twenty years in 2022. Her chapbook, the fierce bums of doo-wop, was published by Argos Books.

Chris Costan

Chris Costan has had solo exhibitions at Germans Van Eck Gallery, Windows on White Street, Avenue B Gallery, F.A.O. Gallery, Cheryl Pelavin Fine Arts (all in New York); Smith College Museum of Art (Northampton, MA); and Peter Miller Gallery (Chicago). She has been awarded grants from the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, NYFA, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her exhibitions have been reviewed in ARTnews, Artforum, Flash Art, New York magazine, and other publications. Costan lives in New York City and spends time in the Hudson Valley.

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