Kristiana Rae Colón


pieces of shedu

:::oriental institute, chicago


I ride wings of demigods too heavy with pride to fly

            walk the wall to the gate Ishtar and cut my eyes on the sun


I style the coils of kings and line their eyes with kohl

and etch their lines in stones skipped discus on Euphrates

Tell me that you see me

naked in hanging vines

squeezing my nipples with my feet on hardened clay

my hair is heavy in evening heat and the night

a thick wet tongue across my shoulder blades

I watch the wetting lips of emperors

murmur in their sleep


When the moon puckers the silken shroud of the east

bleeds pearl into the dark oil sky

I go with my sisters

there are eight

naked to the delta

We cover our skins in silt

still warm from the long sun

rip the serpents from the mud

drag them between our legs

We cake our hair in rotting leaves

blacken our grinning faces with river pulp

We chant the name Inanna

we are tall and dressed in silt

We pour lamp oil on our breasts

and beckon in the merchant ships


thick sinews of sound

bend endless through yawning limbs

the temple welcomes


I am no waiting beauty

I arrive with purpose

a solitary bird

against a desperate glitter of night


The Department of Antiquities in Iraq

has donated, has generously donated,

oil from leaves of mint

clear, thin eucalyptus

the heavy bulge of olives

their plumpest dates

almonds still in thick green sleeves

virgin brides

with sullen smiles


At the feast of Babel

girls with painted eyes

drank palm wine from the south

and laughed with syrupy throats

touched each other with soft brown toes

and chewed their smothered moans

Then came unshaven men

with scythes and sharpened wood and

copper banged to poison tips

quivers and bows with strings that ache

for bloodsong

and we sang

and sang

and sang

bared red teeth

and sanded eye

till the last of us

bubbled out a sigh

till the bowels cooled

beside a braised rare bird

and granite cracked

with bearded cackles

my stiffened fingers twitch


now we fetch water

our regal flesh is caned

our daughters’ wombs broken by dogs

the stench of them unrinsable

our queens are choked

by the cocks of carpenters

river bottom kindest grave

holy water

::: vieques, puerto rico

Mosquito Bay hums hungry

the sun dipping into the glimmering Caribbean

Our dirty white van

bumps along dust roads,

whips of branches slapping the glass

If we could see sky

through the canopy of vines

it would be wicked streaks of purple

not even the faintest moon

Viequenses say go to Mosquito Bay

when clouds cloak the stars

so we do

and hold breath against insect-heavy night

The percussion of swatted thighs

fills the third row of our clanking van

The air is pregnant with vampires

We fasten damp life jackets across our breasts

and tiptoe barefoot into deep mud

The mangroves stink of water and rotting leaves,

the heavy mineral musk of seaweed

steams around our quivering calves

In the middle of the Bay

we are safe from mosquitoes

though the island rings around us,

a dark open bloody fanged mouth

But suddenly


the dipping of oars

swirls diamonds in the dark violet water

The kayaks up ahead are trailed by silver shadows

Galaxies swim beside me,

the sky is still opaque

Mosquito Bay is mocking heaven

Flying fish celebrate the wet stars

coating their slick black scales,

flapping sequins from their tails

I want a baptism in the glittering Bay

to soothe the fresh new bites

My kayak floats away

I am flying in

the mirror of the sky


2 Poems


Kristiana Rae Colón, one of Chicago's Def Poets, is a graduate student at the  School of the Art Institute Chicago. Recent publication credits include A Word, Contrary, Two With Water, Bare Root Review, Girlspeak, and Blacklight. Kristiana holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature/Creative Writing from the University of Chicago and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Writing. Kristiana is an experienced performer and burgeoning playwright.  She is pursuing a career in literary and performance art and arts education.