Babo Kamel

Smoke in the distance is what’s left when the body cannot remember who it belongs to


Lilacs wrecked the sky. 
Unmasked, all the little selves

entered pageants, wanting to polish 
the bald head of state.

Each one was a runner up. 
The stage cowered beneath the weight. 

Doors remained shut. Dogs darted 
from bush to alley chewing on names.

Because bones were risky. Reciting poems 
at midnight, drowning out

folks who serenaded bottles, 
empty as regret. Johnathan

abandoned his broom 
joined a band of rebels selling wristwatches.

Time was cheaper than talk. Just a few coins 
meant you could enter a minute. Stay awhile.

When the tattoos ran out of skin 
they started in on organs.

So many stories inked on a liver. 
You could read them in waiting rooms

while receptionists placed bets on how many hours 
they could ignore you, like a distant, hungry child.

Didn’t matter really. The doctors were always out 
of their minds with worry about whether their affairs

would come to haunt their funerals. A circus 
of man candy and pretties wanting dedications.

Houses stopped remembering that each language 
was a place to rest.

The nightfields called to us, and we tripped 
over words planted years before our birth.

Come closer. Carve your initials in our bark. 
One day, someone will find them.

Originally from Montreal, Babo Kamel now resides in Florida. Her work is published in literary reviews in the US, Australia, and Canada including the Greensboro Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and most recently in Poet Lore. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson’s Program for Writers, is a Best of Net nominee, and a six-time Pushcart nominee. Her chapbook, After, is published with Finishing Line Press. Find her at: