K. Eltinaé

K. Eltinaé is a Sudanese poet of Nubian descent, whose poems have appeared in The African American Review, World Literature Today, Xavier Review, Muftah, Jaffat El Aqlam, Sukoon, Solidago, Rigorous, New Contrast, Poetry Potion, TRACK//FOUR, Word Fountain,The WAiF Project, Baphash Literary & Arts Quarterly, Scintilla, among others. He currently resides in Andalusia, Spain. His favorite smells are sandalwood, amber, and Japanese yuzu. He also loves cheesecake, the oud, the kora, handmade foutas, old school rap, Sufi literature, Greek mythology, and Sarah Vaughan.


There was a time
before borders and stamps decided where we came from.

We welcomed births and grievances over teas,
measured departures with stories and dust that followed us everywhere.

Voices rose and scattered people like an earthquake,
before prayer in the hearts of men and women
disappeared like bread and water.

On the morning a traveler set out,
he left two footprints behind.

One that faced the path he was taking,
another that gave him one last glimpse
of home before it changed forever.

There are boundless events,
which precede that first cry before a new life
bursts forth and the cord is slashed.

Before first steps and comparisons
to dead and living relatives are made.
Our futures shift recalibrating destiny.

We were born to chase our truths in transit.


He could have been my father,
with his blue-black skin

asking directions in that language
that wiped us off the map.

He could have been my father
with his safari suit and silver rings,

with vowels clipped and buried
so no one would hear them sing.

I cough up sand and answer
that I am the son of a dove and a panther.

From their blood and feathers
I have learned about love.

He could have been my father,
but he smiled when he talked about God.


I will iron a shirt and face the wind.

Map out the city with my black taxi disguise,
listen to Indians, Africans and Arabs
claim my colors, hair and eyes.

Stopping for drinks, smiles, one night stands
counting people holding hands gentler than mine.

I will find a phone booth and call home.

Listen to threats about the evils of wanderlust,
pretend I haven’t survived them yet.

I will lie and tell them I am happy at last,
wait to hear: that wherever I go,
walls have ears,
and from them I will never be free.

How much longer?

they still count days, months, years.
I think about those walls and their ears,

Measuring everyday how long it takes
to step out of the shower, tie laces, practice faces,
until I drop dead.

Sent back to a place I fled
but never escaped.