Featured Poet : Omotara James

Last Days of Summer

Today I won’t write yesterday’s poems, only your face,
plums, jam on bread and butter. The pitch of pleasure that presents
itself like weeping. My love, even here, in our pied-à-terre, we can’t
escape dark waters. We row the canal, beneath the Bridge of Sighs,
we take turns looking forward. Perhaps,
if this poem were the bowl of pears, persimmons and pomegranates,
on the table pushed flush against my sternum, pinning me to my seat
in this Italian heat, we might never grow old, plying each other all day
with reasons to devour. Desire must be chewed before it’s consumed,
considered by the soft pads of want. On this plate, I need only balance
the sweet with the savoury, the ratio of pepper to oil. Today we are alive
in summer. Unencumbered. Tomorrow hangs like the apricots from the tree just outside
the window. Let the wind choose our fate. Come, cook with me. Today,
the only question: do we choose yoghurt or cream.

Heaven Be a Sturdy Chair

When I show up
to the reading, it’s not
to talk to you. I’m cruising
for stability. A pound of fat is three times
larger than muscle. Fat
demands space. Describes it.
Fat belts a show tune, plus
an R&B, plus a ballad
at karaoke. My fat
never goes home alone. Think
about your last moment
of pleasure.

Multiply it by three.


When I show up, I don’t need you
to tell me I’m pretty
find me attractive,

No Fats beneath your face on Tinder
No Fats beneath your sheets last night
No Fats or vampires invited
No fucks, just fats to give

Half Girl, Then Elegy

Having fallen while no one was looking
Having borne what fell through
Having fallen early


Having barely fallen through myself
My luck, so close to catching
Having caught the worst of it


Having fallen from the sky and then
Through it. Having landed to realise
I had been part


Having parted the late sky, partly
Sky where I am delicate, I took
A tumble through the night bloom


I took the night with me as I tumbled
Delicate with the infinite
Which swells from the tallest branch


Having grown swollen
As low-hanging fruit, I tell Nadra
I couldn’t help it—


The fresh heave of new breast
Thick switch of hip: a group
Of unnamed gifts is called a steal


She says fruit you can reach is still
Precious. Her name means rare: her lean
Thins towards the unusual


In Lagos, we name our girls
Darling, Sincere, Precious, because
A name is a stake in the grave


Having grieved and taken and taken
On the way to Eros, Thanatos
Having arrived late to my own bloom

Halve me like a walnut
Pry the part of me that is hollow
From the part that yields fruit.

Half Girl, Then Elegy has been previously published by The American Academy of Poets.

Omotara James is a multidisciplinary artist and author of the poetry collection, “Song of My Softening,” forthcoming from Alice James Books, August 2022. She also authored the chapbook “Daughter Tongue” which was selected by African Poetry Book Fund, in collaboration with Akashic Books, for the 2018 New Generation African Poets Box Set. James’ poems have appeared in The Poetry Foundation, The Paris Review, The Academy of American Poets, Winter Tangerine, The Believer, Literary Hub and elsewhere. Born in Britain, she is the daughter of Nigerian and Trinidadian immigrants. She identifies as a Black, queer, fat, poet, and delightfully flawed human being, who believes that faith without good works is dead. She currently lives, edits and teaches in Brooklyn, NY. You can pre-order her debut poetry collection here: https://www.alicejamesbooks.org/bookstore/songofmysoftening. Follow Omotara on Twitter and Instagram at @omotarajames and send tributes on Venmo to @Omotara-James.