Concessions: Alexis Teyie

concessions I

chips for breakfast, an older man,
uncombed hair, an unfinished past—
those are sins we inherited.
they have little to do with our present crimes.
these include, but are not limited to, hanging
up after two rings, unfashionable clothes, lying
about an older man, clinging to the idea of an impulse,
forward-thrusting, differentiating, signifying.
above all, subsisting on manna and Guinness.


concessions II

i am woman in the ablative case.


concessions III, or capitulation

i won’t speak for anyone here, but me
i don’t even sleep. i sit by the gate,
and leave my lover in bed.
not wanting to look
a fool,
wear the lipstick, i laugh
at the joke.
i’m straight out of a book: a Harlequin
novelette. i fall
for the rake. i reform him.
i’m poor but he’s rich,
so of course we have a happy ending.
it’s happy because it ends but
all the women in my family trade in vanished things
anyway. i have a title—Duchess maybe—
and i’m probably pregnant and shit emeralds.
in case you’re hallucinating
the big takeaway is this:
i’m not Emily Dickinson.
maybe it’s true that my life is one long tampon commercial.
i’ll take the sunshine, the sopranos, the dancing girls,
and even the fucking flowers.
But damn it, your god never stood a chance against me.


Alexis Teyie is a co-founder and poetry editor with Enkare Review. Alex co-authored a children’s book, Short Cut (2015), and published a poetry chapbook, Clay Plates: Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs (2016), through the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books (see on LitHub). Her poetry, short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in collections like Routledge’s Handbook of Queer Studies (2019); Queer Africa II (GALA); ID & Water (SSDA) among others. She also sings for a secret choir in Nairobi.

Illustration by Angela Chilufya.


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