Sons of Achilles by Nabila Lovelace

Nabila Lovelace reads a poem from her new collection, Sons of Achilles, published by YesYes Books in June.

For Songs & Contests

“Let him bow down to me! I am the greater king,/ …the greater man.”
The Iliad

This is how
I shed the house:
one boy’s broken
cheek after
another. I slapbox
& my hands
are the quickest.
the kind of fight
that does not
require reason.
Except. I want
a name. (Sound
familiar?) I
am in proximity
to named
men. In this way
I am any
daughter. Once
I knew a man
who fought
a river,
& kept
both hands. Once
I was called
Anwar’s little
Once, I didn’t have
a name
at all. Who are you
if not boy
& brazen?
A heavy thwack
across a boy’s face,
& I am first
of my


Excerpted from Sons of Achilles by Nabila Lovelace. Copyright © 2018 by Nabila Lovelace. Excerpted by permission of YesYes Books. (Originally appeared in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic anthology from Haymarket Books.) All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.