Today, a poem by Darrel Alejandro Holnes.


What can come from
stink and skin and twine?

Perfumes of rotten fruit
pollute our tender tugging

every time you pull me
closer, push me harder,

my name. Tighter,

my reach pulls the rope.
Please, don’t stop. Bodies

ring in harmony with
the rope’s singing chord.

I avoid seeing ghosts by
rolling my eyes

to the back of my head.
But even there I find them,

strange fruit hanging from old oaks,
broken, bent, whipped, and bled.

So I reach to break the rope
Please stop. Don’t—

when it’s all too much to bear.
But instead my nails dig

into your back, swivel and ride
pain, twisting into each lash.

There are too few of us to touch tonight
and though I see trees in your eyes

ordering me to call you Master, rope pulled
marking my skin a deeply bruised black,

you say this is love. Tighter. Tighter!
Light a match, catch afire.

Smoke rises.

A trail of tiny ashes, the hanging
scent of blood burnt leaves.


DARREL ALEJANDRO HOLNES is a poet and playwright. He is the recipient of scholarships to Cave Canem and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, various awards, writing fellowships, and writer’s residencies. He and his work have appeared in the Kennedy Center College Theater Festival, TIME Magazine, Callaloo, The Caribbean Writer, on The Best American Poetry blog as one of the Phantastique 5, and elsewhere.

Photo by Neil Allen-Flowers II.

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2 Responses to “Darrel Alejandro Holnes, “Power Bottom””

  1. Justin 2 June 2012 at 4:20 AM #

    This poem is a good one, but you probably need an “I” before swivel and ride pain, since “nails” can’t really do that. Still, this is a good poem!

  2. Keisha 28 July 2013 at 3:51 PM #

    Is this poem about having sex with a white girl and feeling bad about it?

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