Sex, Kink, and the Erotic: Two Poems by Khalisa Rae

Fire and Brimstone Bodies

my skin remembers the kiln; the bake- lust
animal gnawing at my hip. the glowing,
torch-stricken thing I couldn’t quit. how

i begged for water, to cool the sun-drunk
daze and bad decisions. tossing bodies

around in a funk-filled perfume. we always
regret it in the morning. that brimstone
they said was after us finally caught up.

nothing like a heatwave to hangover demons
the light refuse to cast out. a dash of sage
and holy water — lather
cocoa butter, say it was a bad,
bad dream. the way we tore each
other apart and stitched
ourselves back together with fire.

The Body Does a Praise Dance and the Ass Says Amen

& you never deserved this clap n’ quake anyway
             but while I’m down here hand
me a towel
dab my forehead, catch my sweat, hold my
          hair back while I bend & shake. why men
always the ones that drool at the rattle & bass drum
like a teething toddler? pick up your jaw boy, this
ain’t for you. Never has been. I want to see how low
        I can bring my body to the ground, and deliver

it to the sky again. To dirty whine & roll my hips
is to exorcise demons. to cast out the fuckery
from the day by the fire‘n my slide lean & grind.
So let me sage this sticky floor before the lights
come on at 2. Applaud me. Tell me I did good
& slide a dirty bill in my g-string. Compensate me
for how I pirouette on the pole and sway into a grand plie.
Praise me for the way my booty pop powders the ground with
glitter and twirls
so fast it makes you want to commit to it.

About Khalisa Rae

Khalisa Rae is an award-winning poet, essayist, and journalist in Durham, NC that speaks with furious rebellion. Her debut poetry collection, Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat released (Red Hen Press 2021). Her essays and articles are featured in Autostraddle, Catapult, LitHub, B*tch Media, NBC-BLK, and others. Her poetry appears in Carousel, Electric Lit, Hooligan, Frontier Poetry, Tishman, Florida Review, Rust & Moth, PANK, HOBART, among countless others. She is the winner of the Bright Wings Poetry contest, the Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, among other prizes. Currently, she is the newest columnist for Palette Poetry and serves as Assistant Editor for Glass Poetry. She is the co-founder of Think in Ink and the Women Speak reading series. Her second collection Unlearning Eden is forthcoming from White Stag Publishing in 2022. Follow here at @k_lisarae on Twitter. Find more information here: khalisarae.com.