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Friday Feature: Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi

Photo credit: Katherine Tejada

Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi is a mother who writes beside forests and waters. She fantasizes about living in Anne Spencer’s garden and she strives to write poems that instigate action in service to world-building. Her work is forthcoming or appears in MAYDAY, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, Honey Literary, sin cesar, Elysium Review, Rise Up Review, and other portals. She is a fellow of In Surreal Life, Anaphora Writing Residency, and Pink Door Writing Retreat. Her first full-length collection, DREAMS FOR EARTH, is forthcoming from Deep Vellum Publishing. Travel with her at or on Instagram @fatimaayanmalika. She wants you to scream FREE PALESTINE with your whole body.

Tornado Sirens When You Have A Sleeping Baby

a singing refrigerator / a baritone front door / the porch door / metal songs of a cabinet door releasing scents of cinnamon coriander cloves 

QAnon in school boards / judges robes / Congress 

any and all doors ever made / the creaking wood of the floor / silverware on a plate / the fall of

Roe v. Wade / the metal top scraping a glass jar of peanut butter / baby birds nesting outside the chimney / a sneeze / a neighbor mowing or blowing leaves / a neighbor parking / Juno barking / the taste of sepia smoke swallowing sky / the kitchen faucet / the toilet flushing / a mouse exploring the kitchen / some rodent reading in the walls / sudden jitterbug of a fly / a phone you thought was set to quiet / a phone falling off the bed / fingernails scratching your head / the fall

of affirmative action / Proud Boys / Women Talking / truths behind horrifying fictions /

horrifying truths

collections of collective griefs

the gasp during that first new episode of Black Mirror where FATIMA appears across the screen

in Netflix Graphique / terms and conditions each time we sign / and haven’t they been doing this since forever / make it look like a choice / contracts in unknown languages / listen to them tell us

to recycle as if in that lies our redemption / Google recycle plants near me then find maps of race and wealth / this / everywhere / ours is the air they poison

Cop City / 61 protestors indicted for waging love / SB 63 come to stomp on mutual aid

your landlord bowling above in his living room / your shriek at reading news / silence about genocide from tiny town neighbors / this silence is a tornado siren / what is this world I give my daughter / what is this world / what is this world she wakes to each day / sirens everywhere


Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.


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