Pages Matam

Five Poems from The Heart of a Comet

First Books IV
Volume 16:2, Spring 2015

Genesis According to Hip-Hop

in 7 tankas

In the beginning
there was Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop was
with God. Hip-Hop was
God scratching light from darkness,
calling it the perfect mix.

The break was born from
asphalt skies and cardboard clouds.
Shell Tops pumped freshest
Gillespie contortionists—
Dizzy wind, bebop backspins.

Calligraphy of
spray cans growing more alive,
planting images
like gardens on trains, colored
vines from concrete sea of walls.

The starlight of beats
Bellowing from cratered moon
inside of your throat.
Changing rhythms like seasons,
Suns with hearts like eight-o-eight.

Echo of gunshots
slithering in the emcee’s
crafty tongue. Macho
creatures. No one can take your
fly. Microphone animal.

The lions would roar
Louder Than A Bomb. The GOATs
would prosper from their
36 chambers. Gold rope
wraps fist to protect rib with.

And on seventh day,
Blessed and Holy in its make,
Hip-Hop was sovereign.
Let all trumpets flare marvel;
praise the planet of Brooklyn.


Burning Buildings

my heart is nuclear altruism
my mind a crime scene
my body a deadzone
I wear my guilt like caution tape
my words are an arsonist
in love with the fire of my depression

it’s easier to be angry
than to say I need help
to bathe in kerosene
than to blame my ignition on everyone else’s spark

I’ve grown accustomed to the smell
of my own smoke
and the seductive sound of fire alarms
I’m a pile of ash at the mercy of the smallest wind
any attention is good no matter how many miles per hour it travels

if only you could step out of your own way
and see you do not deserve this suffering

that there is more to my purpose
than being a burning building
in love with the cackles of my own flames

is being buried alive
and digging yourself out

but the cremation of black boy inadequacy
is a lot harder to return from

skin a cauldron of shame
anger is a hell put in my chest

I should’ve put out the candle of my past before sleep,
or am I just an electrical fire from my own faulty wiring?

this does not make senese
why must we hurt ourselves in order to prevent hurt of others?

there is no bootstrap logic here
this is what it does to you

when your heart sacrifices your brain to the fire
and your body betrays you to the phototaxis
of keeping the whole world from burning
before tending to your own cicatrices



I am ready to ride your spell
Unfastened seat belt
Reading for windshield plow
Moist breakthrough
How my face becomes pins and needles for you
Move me as you wish
My tongue is a marionette
Your fingers prepare a daring show
The fog is sheet music on our windows
A new song is born
String me up
Open your curtains
The magic is still here
As we lay in this cauldron
Sparkling dust of moans
Elixir of breath
Speech knows no home here.
There is no home here
There is no home
There is no


71KUqZOxbSLThe Phoenix’s Resignation

My body is unquenchable
masochistic resurrection
freak show
an empty betrayal
I am 30 pieces of silver.

My body is disposable
suicide note you will never find
concealed evidence

My body fights
to become flight
I am afraid of flying
I am afraid
I don’t want my body.

My body is distasteful reincarnation
embroidery of ash
elegant smokestack
crackling noise
I am funeral music.

Withering mistake by oiled hands
suit and tie of flames
(Un)dressed for the occasion

My body does not look back
I am still pillar of salt
hard to swallow.

My body is caught in a lie
my body is punishment
dissolving chaos
revolving door
demolition I can’t get out of
temple ruined
unanswered prayer

My body is lonely Messiah
I am rib scar
hole of hands
aftermath of Lamb’s slaughter
eternal reminder of sacrifice.

My body does not respond
my bod is stubborn disobedience
loyal enemy
my body accepts
except when it is me
I am the exception
my body is the rule.

My body is insomnia
wishing well that never keeps its promises
unsheathed memories
cruel immortality.

Alarm clock
I don’t want to wake up to
I don’t want this body
I want my body back
I want control.

My body is controlling
I am carnage untold
mangled bones
smoldering prisoner.

My body takes
I have nothing else to give
not even my life
I am over my dead body.

My body is
I am not.

What will you do next with my body?
this had habit
boring lesion

I wish to forget.


Left…Over or Why Revenge Isn’t a Dish Best Served Cold

Compared to heartbreak

revenge is a

room temperature



at best.


Write Bloody Publishing is an independent press dedicated to quality literature and book design, located in Austin, TX.


Pages Matam is an international artist and educator from Cameroon, Central Africa, currently residing in Washington D.C. He is the Director of Poetry Events for Busboys and Poets, a Callaloo Fellow, and author of The Heart of a Comet (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014), which was named the Best New Book of 2014 by Beltway Poetry Quarterly and was a Teaching for Change bestseller. A national and 2x regional poetry slam champion, he has passions in the field of education, violence and abuse trauma work, immigration reform, and youth advocacy. He has been a featured artist and performer on Upworthy, Huffington Post, Okay Africa, BET Lyric Cafe, and TV One’s Verses & Flow (Seasons 4 and 5), and at the Pentagon, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Apollo Theater, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and the Smithsonian African Art Festival.