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Hawkins, Shayla

Hawkins, Shayla


Shayla Hawkins is a Detroit native, poet, and writer whose works have been in Calabash, The Caribbean Writer, The Taj Mahal Review, and Poets & Writers magazine, among other publications. Ms. Hawkins has been a featured reader at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and the Library of Congress, and received a fellowship to the Fine Arts Works Center. Her first book, Carambola, was published in 2012 by David Robert Books, and National Book Award-winning author Charles Johnson cited its poems as “Deliciously sensuous, smart…vivid, and luminous with the life of the spirit.…” Ms. Hawkins has also published poems in several anthologies, including Mona Poetica, an anthology commemorating the 500th anniversary of Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa painting; Chopin with Cherries, an anthology celebrating the life and musical genius of Frederic Chopin; Joys of the Table: An Anthology of Culinary Verse; and Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander. Ms. Hawkins currently resides in Michigan, where she is working on her second book.


after Vievee Francis’s “Epicurean”

A broad chest, a barrel chest, chest that Atlas
wished to have before he hefted the world’s weight
onto his shoulders. A chest that I would fill
with the pearls and gold doubloons of my love,
that I would fight Ali Baba and the 40 thieves
to take as my own. A chest whose sublime musculature
Michelangelo, even with the finest Carrara marble,
would be hard-pressed to chisel and replicate

Not the mothball-laden metal chest of my childhood
where wool blankets and winter socks were kept,
but a chest of blood and bone and flesh
that, from neck to navel, I would kiss clean each night.
In my adoration, I would have this chest, enter with reverence
its cave of wonders, both losing and finding myself
there in the riches of my beloved’s secrets, the breath of his life,
and, the greatest treasure, his heart.


First published in The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics, edited by Diane Lockward, Terrapin Books, 2018


If you stay and wait
you’ll see the miracle of me
turning into my tender self
that hid from daylight and the desert’s heat
and dreamed of night
to show with her body
what her mouth forbade her to say

who wanted and waited
to unfetter her thorny cactus flesh
and blossom in quiet pools of cool moonlight

If you stay and wait
you’ll witness my metamorphosis
right before your eyes:
the prickly unapproachable one
now becoming a night-blooming cereus
whose fragrant, flower-soft body
beckons and reaches for you

wanting and waiting
to touch and cover you
with her petal-like fingers
with her love as full
of wild bright-dark magic
as a desert in starlight


Carambola (David Robert Books, 2012)

The Caribbean Writer’s Canute A. Brodhurst Prize in Short Fiction

Winner, John Edgar Wideman Microstory Contest

First Place Prize, Detroit Writer’s Guild Paul Laurence Dunbar Poetry Contest

First Place Prize, Oakland University Ekphrasis Poetry Contest