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  • The Sky Is a Mess of Horror Exhaust
  • Courtney Faye Taylor (bio)

The Sky Is a Mess of Horror Exhaust

Aaliyah died in the section of methat stinks, the cortex where allmy African American inadequacies meetto make a yam-textured memory. Surelymy grind pales compared to her workof the middle, but that chart topper hadmy preteen middle sofa-pinned anddredging up, too often, a caramelized zealin marksmen. In men like my ex Donell,who can't legally know the sod of any schoolyard or R. Kelly who's southern now,stepping on the surname of peachtrees.         Sis, as a villagewe need to want electric chairs whenit's right. Let's agree that every brother'sobsession with what's juvenile isfilthy, that it fuels and shapes a fellatingpower, which is the sort of power we fold,sweep, and bleach way toogladly. My mother heard Aaliyah check a malereporter once: I'm AH-liyah, like ah-men or Muhammad Ah-li,                never UH-liyah         likeuh-mazed or                uh-praise.         Let's not desert our namesfor ease of journalism either. My full nameis my mother's sole crack at poetry andhere I am, privileged to haul it like a taxbracket or a satchel of proof.         Is it Aaliyah's nameor silk press sticking around for myposthumous clapping? That evening she [End Page 82] fireworked the Bahamian sky we worebandeau Tommy bras in a mercy. I slicedher mug out the red album front, hotglued itto my Trapper Keeper's spine and rightthere, between unicorn and glitz, I held thismemorial of cardstock to my tits forweeks. Sore sweets, '90s R&B,skin color the swirl of latte art, Aaliyahenduring in zones that swell, glandswhere all my African American arrogancemeets to make the yellowboniestamnesia. [End Page 83]

Courtney Faye Taylor

Courtney Faye Taylor is a winner of the 92Y "Discovery" / Boston Review Poetry Prize and a graduate of the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers' Program. Her poetry appears in Ploughshares, Boston Review, Adroit Journal, Witness, and elsewhere. Find her online at



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pp. 82-83
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