Author Archives: Nkosi Nkululeko

About Nkosi Nkululeko

Nkosi Nkululeko, a Callaloo Fellow, has received nominations for the American Voices Award, Independent Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize. Nkosi was a member of the 2014 Urban Word NYC Slam Team and 2015 Urbana-NYC Slam Team. His work is currently published or forthcoming in No Token, The New Sound, Rose Red Review and elsewhere. He resides in Harlem, New York, where he listens to Jazz. You can reach him at:

Three Poems – Nkosi Nkululeko


Sharp-Edged Vernacular

The first time I used profanity, 
I laid my head upon my mother’s lap
            and fucking wept,

not yet old enough to remember
that some things are banned from 
            the young’s mouth.

The shit that fell off of the tongue
was a dirty thing; quick, vile &
	    quite violent.

It was similar to a reckless dick
needing something vaginal to approve
	    its existence

in the thick jungle for the damned
where Gods go to fuck in the dark
            rooms of brothels.

I have been made ashamed of the things
that I have said but aren’t we allowed
            to color the speech dark? 

No matter the gauntlet of slang that I
exploit above the tongue, I am still here
            & among the living. 

So this poem is a prayer for the sinned.
Not for those who wipe the mouth clean 
            & leave the body foul.
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