OFFICIAL FORM by Naima Yael Tokunow


Plan to marry


Go to the county records office


Wait in line until the security guard beckons you


Raise your right hand and swear to an apathetic clerk


Raise your right hand and turn eyes at your partner


Use white out to correct


Use white out to correct incorrect form data


Learn that you cannot keep your maiden name and add a new one


Mourn that familiar designation’s good sound


Repeat your new name to yourself


Your partner’s father has beautiful hands


Knuckles like balloons, fingers crowed


Your partner will leave his “New Surname” section blank


Look at him and sadden a bit that he is a man


Love the things that man him but still


How will they know your queerness now


Femme that you are


How hard it was to be seen before this


Even as you made hands on a lover’s body


at the dyke night dance party


You love him and also


say often: I would kill every man


Including you, if I had the power


Sadden that this is not yet a love poem


Pay one hundred and some odd dollars to the clerk


Forget if you ordered a copy of your certificate


Later, order another one so that you can become


Yourself on your goddamn social security card


How easy it is to be old and white and have a cane


Think that to yourself in the social security office


How different it is from the benefits office


No babies


So many men with hands like your father-in-law


You’re married now


Did you not mention that?


You got married to your partner, wore a red dress


You felt like a god, drunk on nothing


At some point you noticed you had no shoes on


The palms of your feet were sticky with some little flower


The sap of its nectar


And isn’t that love


And isn’t that murder


The flowers and their dead gummed lips


They were not meant for the palms of your feet


But you are a god called by a new prayer


This is your marriage


This is your name


God that you have become


Flower-footed that you have become


Watching the death of that different you


Her, with shoes on and some other name



NAIMA YAEL TOKUNOW (neé Woods) is an educator, writer and editor, currently living in the New Mexico. Her work (and life) focus around interrogating black femme identity & privilege, social justice and black futurity. She is the author of the chapbook, MAKE WITNESS, published in 2016 by Zoo Cake Press. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a TENT Residency Fellow & has attended The Home School workshop. She proudly edits the Black Voice Series for Puerto del Sol. New work is published or forthcoming from Bayou, Glittermob, Nat. Brut, jubilat, Diagram and elsewhere. She is blessed to be black and alive.