Cosmic Poetry: Portals of Pain


Portals of Pain

words: Amanya Maloba
Photos: Adrian Estrada
Featuring: $toney Spice, Kenya Ku$h, J-NA$TY


Needle into flesh,
Teeth into bottom lip;

Knuckles go white,
Eyes close, colors swirl inside lids.

Skin goes red and tender,
Black ink into black melanin,

Dancing to the rhythm and hum
Of the machine and our woes.


Designs first seen in dreams
Permanently stained on our bodies.

Names engraved on our living
Temple as well as on tombs.

Blood + ink
Red + black

Seep out together
From the outer layer.

The burning + stinging,
The rawness + the searing incisions

Circulate the pain within itself—
Feels like a wound,
A point of weakness.


Then the skin (the barrier
Between the inner and outer Worlds)

Remembers itself and
The pain deep under the surface
Dying, dying, killing to
Get out.

The burning + stinging
Turn to
Vibrating + massaging.

The point of weakness
Now a portal
Inner turmoil + emotions
To escape from,
Like waters from behind a levee.