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Friday Feature: Alexa Patrick

Alexa Patrick is a singer and poet from Connecticut. She holds fellowships from Cave Canem, Obsidian, and The Watering Hole. Alexa was the 2019 Head Coach of the D.C. Youth Slam Team and has held teaching positions through Split This Rock, The University of the District of Columbia, and the Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan University. Alexa has coached the slam teams of American University and George Washington University for the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. She is an open mic host at Busboys and Poets and has performed at The Schomburg Center and the Kennedy Center. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, as well as led her to be selected to participate in Tin House’s Winter Workshop. You may find Alexa's work in publications including The Quarry, ArLiJo, CRWN Magazine, and The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic. Her debut collection Remedies for Disappearing will be published by Haymarket Books in 2023. Follow Alexa on Twitter and Instagram.


by Alexa Patrick

In the war against me

I am the fortress,

cold, standing.

Around me, a moat

that is also me,

running circles and licking dirt.

Cannonballs flying

from the roof,

Black as me,

exploding like me,

clapping through the air.

In the war, the nights are me

and the knights are me,

riding their strong, tired horses

whose hooves arpeggio the mud,

creating a song that is me.

My dance card is full;

soldiers keep coming

to offer their gentle hands:

Men who live in my building,

Whose daughters went

to my school,

Whose daughter I am,

Who are 20 years my senior,

Who aren’t men yet,

Who’ve signed my checks,

Who, against metro stations,

line themselves like artillery,

and whistle clean as exit wounds.

Of course my humanity hollowed;

mercy burned down

with all the other small towns.

The smoke? That’s me, too.


Torch Literary Arts is a nonprofit organization established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. TORCH has featured work by Colleen J. McElroy, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.


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