Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by I.S. Jones






It comes to me when I struggle:
your hands learn a kind of mercy about my neck,
how blood rushes to the center of departure.
When I had to kill a lamb this way,
Cain called it lovework—
the ritual of hands tightening against faith.
Above the surface of flesh,
I thrash against mommy’s cool touch
returning again to that dark grasp.
It comes to me when I struggle:
not Cain but something she did to me
that only blood has language for.
What will Time do this body
that she hasn’t already named…?
Let me present myself plain, Old Master:
In the dream, I walk for miles in a dark forest.
I wouldn’t have known my own face
if daylight handed it back to me.
A soft hand snakes about my throat
& it is my sister’s face I meet on other side of betrayal.
Some animals show mercy by devouring their lovers.
O Lord, honeyed by fireflies, blood drips from your chin
& I know it is my own.
Making real the dream of my suffering,
the sun drags its headless body across the sky like a monument
of war.



a red halo about the moon’s waist / a colony of dislocated stars / each crimson flurry of light in migration / an elephant craning / its head towards the sky / a father’s teeth barred / a hand flying backwards in mercy / red beads scattering / scattering like our dead / an elephant bowing to prayer at high noon / a father’s spit between the lashing / what did i tell you / don’t look me in the eye when— / a father weeping in his father’s hands / a red supergiant / a elephant migration towards an elephant graveyard  / did you know / every year / after an elephant from a pack perishes / they will return to the grave / a father dances / in a hospital gown / & clean the gravesite / a father comes to join his father / the elephant will lift / the bones in mercy / much like the meeting of hands / a father becomes a child’s halo

I.S. Jones is a queer American-Nigerian poet and music journalist from Southern California by way of New York. She is a Graduate Fellow with The Watering Hole, Callaloo, & BOAAT Writer's Retreat. She is the Assistant Editor at Voicemail Poetry and Chaparral as well as the Managing Editor of Dead End Hip Hop. Her works have appeared in The Offing, great weather for MEDIA, Anomalous Press, The Shade Journal, the Black Voices Series with Puerto Del Sol, Nat.Brut, and elsewhere. More from this author →