Ode to Badu

She wears geometry

on her chest and 

philosophy around

her waist—a mathematical

priestess. She makes maxims

with her throat & moves 

like fire licking wood &

vibrates like the hairs

of a kora or the petals

of a balafon. She’s all

antebellum & rimshots

& Wu Tang. She’s all

street tongue & electric braids

& Bhambatha—his eye down

the apartheid barrel.

I Give the Jeweler My Heart

for J

I give the jeweler my heart

to make a new piece

that fumes from my chest

like dry ice. 

I want the dealer to sell me

on his corner

instead of the schwag

in his coat pocket. 

I ask my pimp

for my mileage, my cut,

my bottle, and the next client—

who waits in the folds of empty paper.

I beg the DJ

to turn up my jungle music

so the bass bounces

off my swollen temples. 

I don’t understand Yeats

or Wordsworth;

I’m all Biggie 

and Pac.

I told the professor

I didn’t know

where I learned to write,

but I lied:

I listened to Nas

paint his hood

in the pastels

of spinning vinyl.


That sweet drunkenness 

when you forget

to forget

the ghost of walking:

the Brooklyn night,

the narrow sidewalk—

cracked by an old root,

those Black faces

like leaves that hang on

till late November,

my chair like an ox—

beaten by everything,

pressed by the weight

of a sweet spastic.

I think tonight 

I’ll watch The Boondocks

& read “The Dead”

in the thick molasses

of my empty room.

I will kiss my teeth

& pour myself another 

paragraph, my fingers dripping

with metaphor.

Latif Askia Ba is a poet living with Choreic Cerebral Palsy from Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York. Askia Ba is currently an MFA candidate at Columbia University and an author at Stillhouse Press who will be publishing his next collection, “The Machine Code of a Bleeding Moon,” in fall of 2022. Askia Ba’s debut collection, “Wet Monasteries,” was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2019.

Featured image: @jay.jay19971

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