[Poetry] — Maia Joy


Let’s watch from the pier as the tides turn
and the grin that once situated itself so
squarely on your face, as though it had
never been questioned before (which was, 
realistically speaking, exactly the case),
contort into an entirely different creature
from any that either of us have ever seen;
I will take notes on the curves of my hips,
finger-painting with the saliva that you
so graciously left behind in your wake, 
as to how your lips twist when the moon 
shifts in its socket and casts its spectrum,
a thin curtain of light that the breeze
slices into slivers, as it refracts across
the ripples over the open ocean.

The brightness melts my insides
into something that more resembles
a Salvador Dalí painting than
anything earthly, burning images of
liquid clocks and floating castles
into the darkness of my eyelids;
I wonder, when you close your eyes, 
whether the beams will follow you
blindly through the darkness, with
closed fists, just like they always were.

A Black Boy and a Dominican Boy Walk Into a Chess Match

during an indoor recess in our fourth grade class. 
The winner’s pot includes bragging rights, half of a 
Lunchable from someone’s cubby, and the affection
of the prettiest girl in their table group. This is the first time
I understand that my anatomy is less human and
more real estate, something that can be wagered by
others as easily as an Oreo cookie and half of a pizza 
out of a cardboard box, and that my value could perhaps
expire just as easily (although, with all the preservatives
in its plastic-and-cardboard ingredients, I would probably
be far more likely to expire before the Snak-Pak did).

No one remembers how the match wound up
but not a single soul present will ever forget
watching the the two boys battling over
black and white boxes on carpet squares, the
lightning talking trash outside, the flickering
fluorescent panels overhead spilling all over the class
while the white kids whispered from their desks
wondering what could be taking them so long, 
why one hadn’t beat the other yet, how they 
could have beaten either one of them by now,
how they surely had both been cheating.
Had there been a clear victor, they likely 
would have had things to say about that, too.

Ten years later, one of the boys tells me
that he, too, was pretty sure 
that they had both cheated. 
He said, “all is fair in love and war.”
The next year, the girl up for grabs starts dating 
the blonde boy from the back row who swore 
that he could’ve beat either by a landslide.


Maia Joy (she/her) is a queer biracial poet, musician, and educator from Boston, MA. A current music and film staff writer for Ogma Magazine, she is currently studying music and creative writing at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she is a member of the Jimenez-Porter Writers’ House. Some of her work can be found in Star 82 Review and Sage Cigarettes Magazine; newer and forthcoming work can be found on her social media @maiajoyspeaks, and her website, maiajoyspeaks.wixsite.com/website.