Cora Dessalines

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the poet

Cora Dessalines is a queer, London-based freelance writer. They were former assistant editor of their university’s creative writing magazine ~FACTORY~ and editorial assistant at Guts, an independent publisher of memoirs and short-story anthologies. Cora has had their work published in Lacuna, a literary magazine that showcases the writing of young women and non-binary people of colour. They are a lover of fashion, space and anything colourful, and are currently at work on their first afrofuturist science-fiction novel for adults.

the poems

takotsubo cardiomyopathy

00:00 / 01:53
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they say it feels like



                               s

                                        i

                                                n

                                                         k

                                                                   i

                                                                             n

                                                                                       g



that tectonic plates shift

and create fissures

wide enough to

swallow you whole


quite the opposite, in fact


it isn’t quicksand

nor an overlap of

scrambling hands and clawing fingers

craving to drag you

under


no, it is a rupture

in the laws of physics

a losing battle

between mass and energy

where gravity knows

no bounds—


it is the feeling of your feet



                                                                                      g

                                                                             n

                                                                    i

                                                           t

                                                  f

                                         i

                                l



and your body capsizing

                                                                     gnizispac

to mould with

this wretched world in which

you rise,

climbing the clouds,

your head facing the ground

all the way


they say it feels like a cavernous well

but the devil is a liar

that chilly water is the fluid in your lungs, sib

the build-up from elevating to

such high altitudes


where dew droplets crystallise

on your eyelashes and

your oxygen is slowly snatched

while you ascend them six layers

as punishment by this,

a most wicked cosmos


to be honest, you should’ve guarded

your rassclart heart instead of

looking up and thanking the universe

for blessing you with syrup and silver

and steadfast loyalty


that love was on loan, little horror

and the night sky tricked you

into thinking those were jewels

stitched onto a dark tapestry

instead of black sheets

stuck on using a roller

and wheat paste


i wish i could’ve warned you

the light you saw

are just bullet holes

we call stars.

so this is love

00:00 / 01:35
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i want it to be glorious.


i want us to douse ourselves in it

to take a match

in each hand

light them

and set ourselves

on fire!


our mixed ashes must

ripple and rumble

until we, two phoenixes,

rise

birthed from the pyre

of our own making—


it needs to be … ravenous.


and make us forsake all earthly foods

save the tongue-plucked cherries

that grow above our inner thighs,

swallowed and savoured


a sempiternal reminder that

we are the fruits of a supernova,

dual spheres of magma.

we will steal matter from each other

like two thieves in the night


gorging in tandem


                                                                                lava—

                                                              combust

                                                    we

                                       until


i only want it

if it’s going to bring me

beyond the brink of destruction

and make astronomers believe

planets will form from we,

these dead stars’ disk.


stars above, it must be  r a p t u r o u s!


and so fucking consuming

that my lungs

become your air

becomes my lungs

fill faster than what

my breath can catch.


trust, we best be willing

to lean over balconies

sever our bloodlines

and make a pact

that our hearts may only

beat

at the same time

as each other

or else, leave us permanently breathless.


… i want it to leave us breathless.


because to us that is love.

love in reverse

00:00 / 02:38
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legend has it our meeting made flowers blossom

in the gloom of winter, spurred leaves into

elevating back to their branches as they shifted from

red

yellow

                                                        to green again with every day we spoke


we, two divergents, formed our own timeline

and while everyone else’s nights came quicker

the sun would spread its arms

just for us,

purposely setting

when the rest of the world rose for work


this was back when i thought my love

for you shattered laws

when i believed the night we met

caused mangoes to grow in the north pole

like a unity of contradiction

sprouted from life’s continual war of opposites


instead of lying in that field of tension

i made my love for you alter

the meaning of cause and effect

in the hope i could understand how

the imprint of your head on my shoulder

was there before i even knew you


see, i used to think we would be infinite

to spite the general line, that even though

we’d submitted to the logic of change,

pledged our lives to

nada hay absoluto y todo revoluciona

me and you would stay the same



but this was back before i knew my honesty

would have me barred indefinitely,

would have my words

chewed up and spat back to me

at a later date, with the mushy remnants of them

laid on my palm like a spoiled crop


you told me afterwards you didn’t want us

to end like this

but i’d already washed my hands

i only wish you hadn’t waved the wrong red flag, my love

it was better when whatever we were was an unspoken thing,

curved into your left cheek like a tiny sickle


it is said our meeting unravelled the rules

of the cosmos, burned the cool red stars

so hot we made one another tremble,

as proof that in the last analysis

we could’ve won this world together

if either of us just had some compassion


now the thought of you reminds me that

we are in the time of monsters, running parallel

to each other so that our contradictions never overlap,

never reveal that me and you were in the bloom of life,

from a planet where you don’t refuse to see me

even after i beg the politburo for a meeting

Publishing credits

All poems: exclusive first publication by iamb