Bingerville, Cote d’Ivoire
for Yubah Sanogo
“I was painting and blood spattered onto my canvas. A bullet had grazed a woman who was running with her child. I left the wound to say ‘never again.’”
- Yubah Sanogo, about the 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis
I see red / in the forecast / a crimson dye
spreading across the sky / punctured by gunfire
& the hiss of smoke
I see a wound in the sky / rubricating the clouds
as the bazaar of war / saturates
my city red
I see the entrails / of dead chickens
auguring men / wet with sweat / & women
flesh drenched red
I see the penumbra / of carrion beetles
underfoot / as they swim / toward the pulp
of red bodies
I see fear tunnel / into faces / through the round caves
of eyes / the reckless mouths /
the red garb of the body
I see the bedlam of a red city / its burning cutbanks
its bloody corona / & the red clamour
of the rooster / on the roof
I see blue men / running / with white masks
bearing red bodies / in black tarps
I cannot unsee / these colours
this timbre of red
this rhythm of light
the canvas speaks
& my paintbrush writes
Ottawa-born and Costa Rica-based, Cara’s work has been featured in Best Canadian Poetry, CV2, The Fiddlehead, The Ekphrastic Review, The Maynard and more. Cara won Room’s 2018 Short Forms contest, second place in Frontier Poetry’s 2018 Award for New Poets. In 2019, she was a finalist for Radar Poetry’s The Coniston Prize and shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize. In 2020, she won the Editors' Prize for PULPLit’s The Magpie Award for Poetry and Room's Poetry Contest. She has a diploma in Poetry & Lyric Discourse from The Writer’s Studio at SFU.
(For Tyler Ezra)
My dreams have been giving me premonitions
about my gender. The other night
a frog told me I should try out new pronouns.
They handed them to me like a pair of well-worn boots:
new to me but, ragged, and breathless.
I said “thanks,” and I meant it, this time at least.
My eyes are closed, so there’s no way I can see what color
the boots are, or what they’re made of. I know they’re brown.
I know they’re full of scuff marks from someone else loving them.
I take my fingers, calloused and tender, and drive them through
the interstate of crisscrossing scars on the leather.
Someone found a home here, I say, passing a gas station
overrun with baby’s breath. Someone lost a lover here,
standing in a rest stop bathroom,
the abandoned name scrawled on the metal stall,
scratched deep so she could not escape.
This time I am sitting on my porch sipping sweet tea and whittling
a name out of a piece of driftwood I picked up at Corpus.
This time I am on a ferris wheel and picking out the lights that
I want in my new pronouns. That yellow one. The one quivering and
bright and warm. The fact that you can only see it at night.
Nora Hikari is a poet, artist, and Asian-American trans lesbian based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming Perhappened Magazine, ANMLY, and Ogma Magazine, among others, and her poem Deer-to-Fish Transition Timeline has been nominated for the Best of the Net award. Her debut chapbook, DEAD NAMES, is forthcoming from Another New Calligraphy. She can be found at @norabot2.0 at Instagram and at her website norahikari.com