September 28, 2021
A soft-edged painting of a landscape under moonlight with stars or fireflies hanging in the mid-ground
Photo by Parée / Flickr

Editorial noteWLT mourns the loss of Kamilah Aisha Moon, whose poem, Fireflies, was included in the Black Voices series this year. We hope her light will continue to shine as bright as it does through her work.

Series editor’s note: In Kamilah Aisha Moon’s “Fireflies,” the speaker is mesmerized by the idyllic world created by the insects and has been transported, with eyes closed, into the worlds within worlds they are surrounded by, taking us with her into a nameless place where pulsing bodies await. In it, we too are mesmerized, enchanted by those who choose to stay within the confines of the brightest nook of themselves, who choose to be seen under a different light, where they are only the best versions of themselves, and nothing else. Here, stay, the speaker seems to say, linger for a bit, because even the thought of pondering upon residual joy is a radical act in itself, that will indeed leave us spellbound. – Mahtem Shiferraw


The air in this house
is so warm, closer
than close.
In different rooms
they flutter,
eyes closed within
their own worlds.

Faces bathed in twilight,
headphones mainline
Jackie, Sam, Aretha
Dionne, James or Smokey
into their pulsing bodies—
who they were then
lives inside every adlib
& holler, shooting
from fingertips spread
above their heads.

Inside the brightest nook
of themselves, they are
everything they did
right, everything that
made sense at the time
still bringing
residual joy. Ambient,
my parents winged
& lit from every angle
hover, untaxed delight!

I don’t blink, don’t dare
try to capture them
in the mason jar
of my hungers
nor halt them
shimmering, spellbound.

Editorial note: Black Voices is a special series guest-edited by Mahtem Shiferraw and sponsored by the WLT Puterbaugh Endowment, which makes possible the Puterbaugh Lit Fest. The series will run on a weekly basis through October 2021.

The author of Starshine & Clay (2017), a CLMP Firecracker Award finalist featured on NPR’s All Things Considered as a collection that captures America in poetry, and She Has a Name (2013), a finalist for both the Audre Lorde and Lambda Literary Awards, Kamilah Aisha Moon’s work was published widely, including in the New York Times, Best American Poetry, Harvard Review, Poem-a-Day, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. A Pushcart Prize winner who received fellowships to MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, Hedgebrook, and Cave Canem, she held an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and was an assistant professor of creative writing at Agnes Scott College.