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Jacouman's Planetarium

The deep bass of an uncle’s voice,

who is long gone, sings to me

the guide of constellations.

Where an old man

takes me to freedom,

in the long-armed embrace

and round robust frame, of

the ladle from the drinking gourd.

Away from fields I tended:

shacks and heat that

attached filth to flesh

with thankless sweat rags.

Where the marks lashed

across my back

forged new songs--forcing

me to forget my name--

in a tongue that was cut off

and discarded.

A vulture probably is having dinner

in my language.

Don't stop singing.

We were made for more

than to till and toil

until our bodies discharge

determination like the dead.

Songs with coded words

we hear in echoes

from ancestors bring

hope and vengeance:

Jacouman, are you coming?

Jacouman, we are ready.

KAYLA GRAY was born and raised in Minnesota. She holds an AFA from Normandale Community College and a BA in Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University. She enjoys hiking and photography in her spare time when she isn't stumbling into writing projects.

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