antithesis of coconut oil

By: Alice Kogo

my hair bleeds purple when i sleep
dark, violet, translucent in the way that sausage fat boiling on the pan is
before it touches a towel
in the way that a ghost’s imprint is before fingerprints are left on the kitchen counter
in the way that black bodies are
before they find themselves in front of the barrel of a gun
before they become that ghost
before the pus leaking from the wound touches a tshirt a hood
the towel they are wrapped up in before reaching the stretcher
and they are dead meat, sold by link, five bullets per pound,
fifteen bullets per pound, twenty-three bullets per pound.
to save money on hospital bills the medics pronounce them dead
to prevent the wasting of money on someone who would’ve died / been left anyways
they are pronounced dead

maybe if i were in the absence of color my hair wouldn’t bleed,
it would drip, straight down, following the lines, rivulets of clear water down my locks
clear as my conscious as i tell myself that i am not a racist
that my were parents were / are
clear as my reflection in
the water i see myself and i can smile will not have to change myself
to fit the image of a black pariah in america

i use coconut oil in my kinky hair because it makes me feel at home
when it freezes into the hard shell of itself that can only be soothed
with the warm pulse of a human hand i see myself
there is no harm that comes from coconut oil,
but its opponent dark & lovely deep conditioner is its antithesis, it makes me bleed
store brand, average, bought when my pockets were too empty
to search for the solace of the barest, the best, coconut itself

they repackage what i know, they call it original,
make me smile with a cardboard cutout black face on the label
remove the sense from my head as i reach to the shelf
forgetting the black owned businesses that exist, that they need me, that i need them
i empty my pockets out for you and you make me bleed
because the money i spent on your white product takes away
from what i could’ve put in communities that would help quell the bullets
that would bandage the wound / that would keep us alive / but i chose the alternative
and as it makes me bleed i

remember how purple used to be my favorite color
until it wasn’t
how royalty is dressed in fine robes of that hue, the shade tantalizing
but there are no more queens in my country
my color has already been assigned to me, black, the absence of light,
and because purple is just a refraction of the sun in a prism
holding a multitude of colors within itself,
it is no wonder that i do not partake in its equiption