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I Haven’t Kept Long Hours In My Blood

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

have you seen the bodies?

there are bloated effigies swaying above my tongue

is there even a remedy?

when I yearn for citrus and grieve for coffee my mother continues to crush garlic + honey for offerings places them as wreaths strung on my adam’s apple and provides a splash of rum to charm all that I speak to with a proof of potency

but Mama, it hurts to swallow

my throat, a cliff of dying dreams reminds me that this eddy in my mouth it is a palace to which my words are dragged and drowned and deadened

now bitterness has shown me its glittering harbour when the merchants of language fail to bargain

for softly

for gently

for my waking

up close I learn its flickering lights are the constant dimming of eyes and I hear my ancestors saying we must perfume our shadows so the living will remember us well because this shade of onyx is never left untarnished on the pavement

now the city wipes its feet honors its blues with oboe reeds and bagpipes while my people carry native chants for my edgeless breath

and in whispers

over white sheets

father tells me I was birthed with a spot pre-fitted for obols and that I haven’t kept long hours in my blood because they always painted my sighting too dangerous for it


Image credit to Mr. Tomato.

Nia Andino is a poet, design librarian and ancestral researcher originally hailing from Queens, NY.  Raised with the culture of Caribbean stories in her home, she uses the notion of sankofa to create cultural work paying homage to the beauty and strength of her Afro- Boricua, USVI and African American roots. Nia has been featured as a poet at the Nuyorican Poets Café and in Queens Lit Fest. Her writing has been published in Moko Magazine, Anomaly, The Abuela Stories Project, Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement and The Muse, Latinas: Protests and Struggles in the 21st Century USA,Beyond the Long Lines,  a USVI anthology on the Irma-Maria experience and is forthcoming in the Fried Eggs and Rice anthology. You can view her work at and follow her on Instagram at andino_styles.

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