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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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You on the red mat ask me what love is

and I say it's eternal like a ring.


You laugh and whisper it is more like the sun

over the Kouilou-Niari River which makes you happier

than the very ripples of life.


I laugh then and ask, hot, hot, hot? and you reply

no my sweet, love is energy.

Your famined mouth repeats energy five times

the life blood, the peanut, the plum wine,

the wheel rolling,

the waterfall thundering.

I embrace the lines and flakes of your hands

while you weep one tear that winds down

the ravines of your cheeks.

I kiss it away tasting your last salt.


Love is sacrifice you say and I shake my head to disagree.

Hush hush.

Love is this.

No sacrifice, no compulsion. No beginning and no end.

You close eyes that no longer dance at turns of shade.

Before you die, you smile.

Like the little one. Soon me.


I rest my head on your chest, then raise you in my arms,

cradle your bony cage, carry you outside

to bury

next to the little one 

and wish fertile soil will sweep into my mouth too,

so I can savor you.


The storm of HIV

blusters with artful spite from tropics to plains

as I etch your name

Paterne Kisimba, father of Mireille, in stone

and murmur, "love is all we have.

Love is all we had."


                                    -Sara Basrai