Vanilla (and other poems)


The word “vanilla” comes from the Spanish word “vainilla” (meaning “little pod”)
which itself is descended from the Latin word for “sheath”: “vagina.”

a silver teaspoon
of Pure Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla
not a lot
but enough
to lift my mind
from my American kitchen
and wrap my senses
in its African island sweetness
enough for its heady orchid fragrance
to cling to that spoon
hours later
and carry me back
to the memory of you
and your body
spooned with my body
the frames of our flesh
bending and fitting themselves
to fill and fulfill
each other’s need
you me us
two seeds of vanilla
in our own little pod
pressed together
until we yield and spill
our own hypnotic pleasures
too sweet
for our bodies
to contain

Butter Pecan

smooth confluence
of sugar butter
nuts cream
this delectable dream
churned into real-life lusciousness
salty sweet delicious
chunky pecan crunch
milky mound that enters frozen
into my mouth
then melts in a pool 
of liquid pleasure
ambrosial marriage of flavors
tangy sweetness so exquisite
that with each taste
all my body rejoices
even my tongue 
speaks in tongues

Pot au Chocolat

“Chocolate pots are distinguished by a hole in the lid where a stirring rod could be inserted.” 
 ~ Taylor Newby, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Some nights
like this night

an invisible flint
sparks a kindling
between us
that sends our bodies
beyond words
shapes them
into symbols
and poetry itself

My hips
my behind
my belly and thighs
paired with the exquisite
almost unbearable
nearness of you
become a feminine
French metaphor
replicating the curves
and silver sheen
of a chocolate pot
whose hidden sweetness
melts at your touch
and the lush
lean length 
of your phallus 
and your physique
become my stirring rod

most welcome agitator
rising, gravity-defying
flesh stick
aimed and sliding
into me

pulsing churning spinning
a delicious liquefaction
of pleasure
greater than even the sum
of our poetic selves 
can express

Mocha Brown

for Sam

He called
the color of my voice
mocha brown

Deeper than caramel,
he said, 
but richer and sweeter
than coffee

A voice 
whose liquid-like earthiness
can be imbibed
and savored 
and linger
in a listener’s mind
long after its sound
has left his ear

How then could I not delight
in such a description 
from such a man
who used his own voice,
the soft silvery dark
of dew on a morning glory,
to call forth magic and light
from something of mine 
so familiar 
that, until him,
I dismissed it 
as ordinary


  • Shayla Hawkins is from Detroit, Michigan. She is the author of Carambola and Exquisite by September. She is a winner of The Caribbean Writer Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for Short Fiction and The John Edgar Wideman Microstory Contest. Exquisite by September was a 2020 runner up for the Cave Canem/Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize and is now available from EastOver Press.