Emma Jo Black

icarus, a vampire sees the sunrise for the first time: Emma Jo Black


new wings burst
from the skin of my back
but I didn’t feel it happen
until one day,
I tripped on my own feet again
and was falling towards the sky

I thought I was out of the woods
and over this longing
it turns out I was flying
above the clouds
so long,
I lost my way
and left myself behind

they never told me
leaving you meant losing me
I thought the shape of us was swallowed
by the ocean long ago
the day I gave up my own shadow
to the gods waiting below

I’ll never go back to how lost I was
how small you were
curled up in your own sadness
there is nothing left but labyrinth
and melted wax and
burning scars into my softness

I never knew how cold the wind could taste
I love it here
losing whispers in the night
I hate it here
not a single bird in sight


now the horizon shatters
bleeds out pink before his eyes
the wound grows wider
opened for the first time
he learns that gray is not a shape, but a colour
with many dancing sisters

then it bites into the sky
the first stripe of red
he can feel it searing hot
in the center of his chest
he thinks that if he ever were to have a heart;
it would feel something like this

his face is warm in a way that it never was before
the sky is blinding, the clouds are catching fire
he can feel it
each stroke of colour branded onto his skin
he looks down at the flames licking his feet
and thinks to himself:
“this is so beautiful, it hurts.”

Emma Jo Black is a Paris-born poet and visual artist of Irish, French and American nationalities. They bridge seas through poetry and cultural anthropology, investigating migration paths and experiences of liminality. Jo has worked with indigenous leaders in Colombia, left stray feathers in Berlin and stalked the streets of Dublin as a vampire. They now host literary events at Spoken Word Paris and were recently published in The Galway Advertiser and Lothlorien Poetry Journal. Their stage performances combine poetry, physical theatre and drag in order to celebrate the queer and the unknowable in each of us.