Stephanie Kaylor

Two Poems from ASK A SEX WORKER!


Somewhere there is a line up at this very moment, yes, even at this hour. Steak and eggs, coffee and head, a man once said when I asked him: why so early? Somewhere, there is this line up: a woman will be picked, or she will not. These days in the desert, the men come so rarely that the twelve hour shifts turn into always being on call, days rolling into one another like the barren plains, wild horses spoken of more often than seen. Somewhere, they are trying, helping one another out of bed when the bell rings. Someone is always sleeping, but still she rises. It will never be the right choice: too tired to work, haven’t gotten enough work, should have left last week, should have come in early, should be working solo again, should have pinned my hair up, should have bought another pack of cigarettes, should have tried harder with, should be going home to, should try harder to forget the, should get another coffee, ashamed to be unphased by the smell of broiling meat.



On Twitter, people joke about getting a doctorate in OnlyFans Studies. At dinners, I drink too much wine until my lips chap into a purple rose. Once, I made poetry from the discomfort, recited it as a verse, as a prayer to consecrate myself holy: why must we ask and tell what we do to make money? Why can’t we speak of our passions, our hobbies, the questions that keep us up at night? Lately I have only been kept up by tiredness. If there were someone beside me I’d say isn’t it funny how you can work from bed and still be so tired after, the joke being that there never is an after. Lately I neither ask nor answer, reciting silences from memory, enunciating their every vowel wholly.


Stephanie Kaylor is Reviews Editor at Glass: A Journal of Poetry. They are a PhD student at UC Santa Barbara, and curate the Sex Workers’ Archival Project. They live in Brooklyn.




Ashia Ajani

Chafing in Crown Heights

mira, if you take the climate crisis too personally, you’ll never be happy again. what white 

women call climate grief, I call the ghosts of colonialism come to reclaim uninherited earth. 

everybody’s telling me how to react, but nobody’s telling them how to act. 

won’t a blk drag queen tell you ‘bout yourself, shadow & all, send you running home crying 

to your momma about all that spoiled potential. all that summer stink oozing out open wounds. 

tell the truth? I can’t tell if I want to survive the event. 

regardless, the event survives in me, my flesh an inalienable reminder of splendor, unearned. 

I promise, I tried to be good but I suppose I done sweated out all the goodness in me. 

From a six story walk up, On & On croons out an AC unit-less window, the world keeps turnin’
oh, what a day
what a day, what a day

                                                                                      Mz. Badu, I know you like your Black gxrls
                                                                                      quiet, legs closed but in this Crown Heights 
                                                                                      smoke exhaust & wet air i’ve gotta spread 
                                                                                      my thighs and let some coolness wipe me
                                                                                      clean, sponge the clock-spotless from 
                                                                                      sweet and sticky summer steam
                                                                                      heat boasting, beautifully Black tender 
                                                                                      niggas write sweat magick songs- decadent,
                                                                                      rolling love poems sent from sunbeams 
                                                                                      sent from sunbeams 
                                                                                      sent from sunbeams 
                                                                                      Black as I am, what a day, what a day in me.


The Aftermath of Sugar

Let me tell you, dear reader 
there is no such thing as a senseless tragedy 
every cataclysm, never divinely ordained 

orchestrated by history, and by history 
made cyclical. 
The first time the New World colonizers taste-

touched sugarcane, a thirst solidified insatiable 
lust sullied by this voracious sugartooth 
an empire built from sweetness, exploited 

                                                                                       decomposed freshwater bodies into bare memory. 

And now, when the air in South Bay 
becomes sickly sweet poisoned with cane ash 

the house on the hill pretends to know nothing of the aftermath of sugar
disregard the Glades, their pleasurepain souvenirs
uncontrol burned to liberate ambrose, and in the process 

swallow the breath of babes Black as soil burdened by 
overharvest. evidence of harm begrimed to neglect and 
study “African genes,” curious as to why we keep dying 
                                                                                                              coughing up dark lungs to 
                                                                                                              fuel & feud until even the light itself 
                                                                                                              no longer bears to shine on. 
what mirror should be held, reflected, refracted to
elicit some narrow response? 
if not in my backyard, whose? 
watch how we, made unGoded by geography, send thoughts&prayers with
no reason to stop the bloodletting

                                                                                                              let it all remain, sickly sweet poison

                                                                                                              caramelized with its glorious stick.


Ashia Ajani (they/she) is a Black storyteller and environmental educator originally from Denver, CO, Queen City of the Plains and the unceded territory of the Cheyenne, Ute, Arapahoe, and Comanche peoples. They are an inaugural 2022 Chrysalis Institute Milkweed Learning Hub Fellow. She is an environmental justice educator and coordinator with Mycelium Youth Network and co-poetry editor of The Hopper Literary Magazine. They have been published in Frontier Poetry, Hennepin Review, Exposition Review, Foglifter Press, and Sierra Magazine, among others. Their debut poetry collection, Heirloom, is forthcoming spring 2023. Follow their work at