I SING THE BODY BLK

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE BODY

THE BODY IN BLK

IN THE UNITED STATES

THE BODY IN HIDING

IN AMERICA

THE BODY FULL EXPOSURE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERIKKKA

THE BODY BREATHING FOR WHICH             YES             IT STILL STANDS

ONE NATION          NOBODY’S DAUGHTER         EVERYONE’S MAMMY

TITS HEAVY & SOPPING WET       NO REAL BODY YET ALL IN BLK

I SERVE BODY NOT MY OWN              HERE            IT’S ALL YOURS

PUBLIC EXECUTION REALNESS

BLK PUSSY ON A PLATTER

I KNEEL TO NO MAN                                                                  UNLESS FORCED

WHICH IS ALWAYS HOW THOSE THINGS GO, RIGHT

I AM NOT ONE MADE TO SPIT                   I SWALLOW                      UNDER GOD

& SLAP MY OWN CHEEKS                     THY KINGDOM, AMERICA              I CUM

FORGIVE ME FOR CONFUSING THE MULTIPLICITIES OF SUBJUGATION

JUST FEELS SO GOOD ALL SHACKLED UP TO ONE NATION LIKE THIS

I DRAG THE APOCALYPSE BY THE THROAT

FOR LIBERTY & JUSTICE TO GHOSTS

& THEN SOME

Ophelia Writes Her Own Suicide Note

men like you have a name
and it isn’t Love,
no matter how much I tried to believe it was.
see, I wasn’t created for Love;
I was created for you
and I never belonged to myself.
my body rested on the tip of your tongue,
folded underneath the criticisms of my father,
forgotten in the wind of my brother’s absence.
I was made to be defined by a man’s name
and never my own.
see, girls like me have a name
and it’s one we are told to keep hidden in our chests
to make room for the names men have given us.
I answered to Wife, Witch, or Whore–
I forgot about Woman
because whenever I showed signs of humanity
they called it crazy,
called my womanhood madness,
called your madness acceptable,
turned my name into a syndrome,
turned yours into a masterpiece.
men like you have a name and it’s one that I beat into my brain,
a name that was pounded into my heart
over my own.
I’ve heard
men love fucking Crazy Girls
because they will forget themselves in you.
I’ve heard
men hate for us to talk about fucking
because it shows we have forgotten ourselves.
I’ve heard
rosemary is for remembrance.
I’ve heard
my heart call out my name in whispers
and it sounded like Me.
I’ve heard
the river say my name like
Love.
I intend to answer it.

Spring Awakening

image by jujulica.tumblr.com

Let it be known that Persephone never consented to anything.
She didn’t know the consequences of those six seeds,
didn’t know the consequences of having both budding breasts and brown skin like the Earth,
like her mother,
who knew it would become a problem
sooner rather than later.
Let it be known that her father never bothered to learn how to do her hair
and never bothered to stay in her life long enough to see how big it had become,
like the head of a dandelion,
mistaken for a weed.
Let it be known that Zeus only knows how to use his thunderbolts instead of his words
and that is an act of violence
and maybe, Demeter knew what was up all along.
Knew that her daughter would never be able to be a child
so long as she looked like her.
The world looks at our girls and sees fully grown women,
ripe and ready for the picking,
when only the scabs on their knees have completely sprouted.
They look at two brown legs like roots,
only to be dug up, like an unwanted thing.
And the Earth is such an unwanted thing,
a wild thing,
like a girl thing in springtime,
like brown knees being carted away by cold hands,
such a wild Thing.
Let it be known that Zeus and Hades were only doing what was in their nature.
Exploitation, conquest,
the Spring Cleaning of a garden,
the rape of Persephone.
How quickly girlhood is stripped from the mouths of children with earth-brown skin and flower bud hearts.
Let it be known that Hades uprooted her, kissed her between her thighs and left “Woman” on her tongue.
In the spring, she returns to Demeter,
like a flower whose buds were pried open too soon,
a little bruised
but only on the inside.
Persephone cradles herself into her mother’s arms,
whispers,
“Mommy,
make me a witch.
So I can always remember what spring feels like on my skin,
so I can always be in bloom.”

The Holy Trinity

“Thou who art one in nature and three in persons,

Beyonce, Nicki, Rihanna,

I adore thee and give thee thanks from the depths of my misery.

Bestow upon me thy grace and thy glory and hallowed be thy name. Amen.”

The Church was no place for a woman till the heavens split open and dropped these three onto our music charts

and now, every Pink Friday, baby, you can see my halo.

At this church, we’ve chosen our own Holy Trinity

Beyoncé, our Heavenly Mother
Nicki, the Goddess of All Things
Riri, the Patron Saint of Side Eyes and Not Giving a Single Fuck

because we needed a change and wouldn’t you want to worship a God that looked like you?
We pray in dope beats and cross Pink Prints over our Hearts and for communion,

we pour it up pour it up.

Say goodbye to purity rings and hello to doing whatever and whomever the fuck you want,

put a ring on it if you’d like but we don’t want no rude boys here, I’m sorry, but black femme identified only,

like I said,
wouldn’t you want to worship a God that looked like you?

Turn to your neighbor,
say, “You’re a boss ass bitch.”
Turn to your neighbor,
say, “My anaconda do.

Bow your heads and pray.
Pray that your eyeliner never runs. Pray that your heart and your ass gets fatter.
May your weave always be on point.
May you never get caught in the rain without your umbrella, -ella, -ella.
May your thoughts always be rachet.
May your feminism always include Us.

The Holy Spirit abounds through the church and my people catch the Spirit in their bodies.
No tongues are spoken; only twerking allowed here
only brown hands on knees
only brown hands up high—
for once, not in a “Don’t Shoot” way.
Brown hands up high like how all the single ladies put their hands up,
like flexin’ with y’all’s hands up,
like starships are meant to fly,
high like diamonds in the sky,
brown hands up high like salvation,
brown hands like freedom.

WOMANISMS

YOU EXIST UNTIL THEY KILL YOU

THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE MORE THEY’LL USE IT AGAINST YOU

LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF; NO ONE ELSE DOES

BURN THE BOOKS THEY MADE YOU READ IN SCHOOL

BEING UNAPOLOGETICALLY YOU IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE YOUR ANCESTORS PROUD

MAKE USE OF YOUR HEART; IT IS ALSO A MUSCLE

YOUR VALUE DOES NOT LIE IN YOUR HIPS, BUTT OR THIGHS

MEN ARE NOT HERE FOR YOU

NO ONE IS HERE FOR YOU

SWALLOW WHITE TEARS; ALWAYS STAY HYDRATED

SOMETIMES, YOUR MOTHER WILL NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH YOU

YOUR FATHER DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH YOU

SOME PEOPLE ARE NOT WORTHY OF YOUR LOVE

STOP TRYING TO PROVE THEM WRONG

THE SYSTEM WORKS TO KEEP YOU DOWN

YOU WERE TAUGHT TO ENDURE; SOMETIMES YOU WILL HAVE TO FIGHT

DON’T WORRY ABOUT MAKING ANYONE ELSE COMFORTABLE

YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE TO STRUGGLE

THERE ARE PARTS OF YOU THAT ONLY YOU DESERVE TO SEE

KEEP YOU TO YOURSELF

RELEARN YOURSELF

TIME ONLY WORKS AGAINST YOU

YOUR DREAMS WON’T TASTE AS SWEET IN THE MORNING

THEY WON’T LOVE YOU LIKE YOU LOVE YOU

A Poem: Alternate Names for Black Girls

(After Danez Smith)

1. the moon in eclipse

2. momma (crying in her bedroom with the door closed; ignore it)

3. a wet thing

4. a hot thing

5. bloodstains on the mattress

6. ingrown hairs

7. a soft thing

8. the space between a fist and your family tree

9. the silence when the protests are over

10. the silence when the protests never happened

11. a forgotten thing

12. (a thing)

On Beauty

I.

one morning you woke up to your reflection in the mirror
and called it stranger.
you saw in your eyes what is said on your birth certificate,
for once, dark brown meant golden rivers,
meant fields of gold, meant the earth
queens have walked on, meant
beauty.
so you turned from the mirror and blinked,
attempted to readjust yourself to the color of nothingness.
turned back to your reflection,
called it empty.

II.

you find there are other ways to make yourself bleed.
instead of carving intricate designs, you start to buy them,
try poking holes instead of slashing veins.
you allowed someone else to go through you.
your nose will always look too wide to you,
wide like the arms of a coat hanger
you hang too many jackets upon,
wide like a room
you put too much furniture inside,
wide like the universe
who is tired of expanding.

III.

you wear the blood of your ancestors on your lips to bring the diaspora closer to your tongue.
here, you can keep it hidden
but it has its own ways of creeping out
in ragtime rhythms between the gaps in your teeth.
you’ll forget to use “am” and start using “be”
you’ll forget to use “be” and start using “am”
so you will fit on tongues far pinker than yours–
this will make you easier to swallow.
keep that mouth closed,
lips too full for your own good,
lips like hips lips that spread lips are red lips that said
you are too
much ugly
for one girl
to swallow.

IV.

this skin means nothing
this skin means sin
this skin means kin
this skin means
in. this skin is death
this skin is tired of being
this skin. you’re tired of being
your skin is tired of being
your skin.
you are tired of being your skin.
you are tired of being. you
are tired of you.

V.

you thought long hair would make you feel pretty but now you’ve got something new to hide behind.
sometimes you don’t eat much, just force feed packs of hair onto your own until you start to believe you show the beginning signs of acute arthritis–
like hatred, this runs in your family,
soaking through a lineage,
keep it saturated,
keep it moisturized.
too caught up in the pursuit of nappyness, you briefly felt empowered
like the twists atop your head were rope from Wonder Woman’s lasso,
as if they didn’t form a noose,
as if that noose didn’t get tighter every time you saw a white girl complaining about her hair
as if her beauty hadn’t been packaged to you since the dawn of time
as if your’s
was none existent.
there is a science to becoming.
first, start to believe that you’re dirty,
filthy,
unwanted. let this soak down to your pores,
let the internalized racism take over your melanin.
next, rinse the manic panic nightmares from your scalp.
watch the bottom of the shower flood with dandruff suds and begin again anew.
tabula rasa–a clean slate.
finally,
reincarnate the hate. your low self esteem is a cycle that spirals more and more out of control with each generation. it is not phosphate free. you took the whip into your own hands but you’ve always been inclined towards self destruction and with every one lash you must
repeat
repeat
repeat.

Days Like This

Mama always used to set the table at 5:30.
Her dainty brown fingertips would be careful not to grab any glass with too much force or yank any plate out from the dishwasher before it’s time—
Mama Ferguson considered motherhood to be an art.
She let her boy go out and play on her sidewalks because these streets were her realm of domesticity,
but he had to be back by the time the first streetlight came on.
And he always came back,
cried “Mama!” with joy at her doorstep and
ran straight towards the plates of BBQ ribs.
Never was there ever an empty sink,
never was there an empty stomach.
In this house, love asked for seconds
and Mama Ferguson was always willing to serve.
In those days, she used to thrive, used to tie the apron around her slim waist with extreme care,
as if it was a medal of honor.
She was everybody’s Mama. When she went out, the children all used to cling to her calves with playground devotion and her ankles never once buckled underneath the weight.
Mama Ferguson tucked her son into his bed every night around nine, and as he slept,
she looked towards his young face as if she were following the North Star to home.
She would leave prayers from her full lips unto his dark forehead,
then she would close his door.

Mama used to put at least two plates down
and sit at the head of the table until she saw the streetlights come on or heard a knock at her door.
When none came, she continued to wait
until her face was wrought with frown lines she thought she could use a beacon for her son to come home.
She cradled her head in her hands but made the mistake of looking down
at her wrinkles and age spots and varicose veins.
She starts to notice she’s been getting darker lately,
that her beauty has been declining with time,
that Black has been increasingly present in her melanin and in her thoughts
which has never been a good look.
She continues to wait and knows that, wherever he is, he is out far past his bedtime,
so she goes out looking.

Mama Ferguson finds her son sleeping on her corner face down in the cold,
four hours past his bedtime.
She knows he is sleeping because she was the one who closed his eyelids
when no one else bothered to tuck him in.
She cries “Michael!” at her doorstep and
runs straight towards the dishwasher,
empty for the first time.

Ferguson never leaves the house because she feels too guilty.
Her curfews have gone from nine o’clock to midnight,
and she is always running on empty.
If she makes it out her front door, Ferguson doesn’t bother to carry a purse.
She says the zippers and flaps remind her too much of a womb,
says the water splashing in the empty dishwasher reminds her too much of a womb,
says the washing machine reminds her too much of a womb,
and her’s has been barren
ever since they tear gassed her daughters
and murdered her sons.

The neighbors’ daughter stops by her house at lunchtime. Her young, usually bright face seems to shrivel with every syllable that creeps out from behind her lips. She says,
“My boyfriend and I are never having children.”
Says she threw out her list of baby names when she had to throw her hands up in the air.
Says she feels like she’s been robbed,
that White systemic abuse has looted her dreams,
held her future up at gunpoint.
She says, “I wish I hadn’t been born Black. I wish I hadn’t been born,”
and leaves.

And Ferguson just cries up memories that burn so much she has to pour milk over her wrinkled eyes.
She knows that nothing can save her.
Black bodies are a natural born threat so Ferguson knows that peace
is not welcome here,
not when Black babies learn to get down on their knees before they’ve mastered crawling,
not when they learn to sleep face down with their hands up,
not when their faces declare Criminal,
when their thighs demand Rape,

not when open palms demand
Shoot.

She’s been having trouble sleeping, so Ferguson tries something new tonight:
keeps the screen to her bedroom window open.
She imagines Palestinian and Yemeni mothers using the hum of drones
as lullabies for their own dead children;
she rocks herself to sleep with the violent screams of her city and it’s attackers.
Ferguson tries to keep up with her own people’s heavy sidewalk treads,
tries not to think of the fact they sound just like the heavy thumps of Black bodies
when they fall to the ground.

In her dreams, they are marching towards freedom.
In her nightmares,
they are marching towards their graves.

Notes to Self

I want to be there when you explode.
There is beauty in you—-
not in the breaking down,
but in the restoration.
Call me,
and I’ll come over, lay my head near your aching bones,
nestled in the flood.
Hold me there,
because I know you can. You are so strong.
Your arms carry so much sadness in your veins,
and I know you can, darling.
You have held yourself up so well for nineteen years
and your back has not yet crumpled.
I want to be there,
not to see you fall
but to watch you build yourself back up again, brick by brick,
your stitches paved in gold.
I’ll be there to trace the faint lines in our palms
and the faded paths on our thighs
as if we were memorizing the way back home.
When you break, I will be there,
equipped with science textbooks explaining how to create
something out of nothing.
You are the moon
and this is just a phase.
I will be there as you wax and wane
through black holes. I will be there
at the Big Bang.
Don’t be afraid to explode into pieces—
you’ve always wanted to become someone new.
Galaxy Girl, this is your chance.
Let me fold myself inside your vast sky
so you will no longer be able to call yourself “empty.”
Teach yourself how to become.
Harness the fires blazing in your brain
until you begin to blink starlight.
Burn,
but do it honestly,
brightly.
Do it for me.
Do it for us.

Horny College Girl Tries Sadness For The First Time

Eighteen year old Horny College Girl orders a large pizza for herself while her roommate’s away.
She orders over the internet and strokes each key in a furious rhythm.

Horny College Girl can’t bear to wait any longer; Horny College Girl wants it now.

In the special instructions box on the order form, she writes “Please send your sexiest driver” and hits “Submit.” Horny College Girl cannot find the strength to put on anything decent so she lays sprawled hopelessly on her bed until the Pizza guy calls and hopes that her roommate does not walk in on her touching herself with the X-Acto blades she keeps hidden in her underwear drawer.
She is ready to spread her wrists wide open for this man.
She is ready to be swallowed whole.

Her cell phone vibrates, sending shivers through her entire body; she keeps it on vibrate so that she can feel something but she hardly ever does because no one ever calls so when Horny College Girl answers the phone she keeps her voice down low so that Pizza guy knows that
this is special,
that she has been waiting for him in agony for the last forty five minutes
and that she’ll be right out.

Horny College Girl has little to no strength left and treks out in the mountain weather in just an over sized t-shirt and flip flops and baby,
it is cold outside.
She keeps her arms and legs exposed so that she can use her fading scars as a mating call, she is ready to be opened up.
She is ready to be swallowed whole.

She pays in debit so that the money is taken away immediately,
so that she does not have to wait for the emptiness to come,
so that he will carry a little piece of her all the way back to the Domino’s down the road and puts the tip in, puts it on her card, signs her name in red pen, he hands her the pizza box
and tells her to have a good night.

Horny College Girl finds herself transfixed in the black of his mouth and wonders if he would spit or swallow her whole because she always found it hard to keep things down

in fact, this large pizza will be in the toilet bowl by morning.

Horny College Girl bites her lip,
wonders if it’s appropriate to ask Pizza Guy to come in and have a slice,
wonders if it’s okay to ask if he ever felt like just not existing,
wonders if he ever felt like being was too difficult a job
and that’s why he decided to deliver pizzas instead,
but none of that was ever part of the script.

So Horny College Girl just scurries back to her room with the pizza box and hides under the covers,
she wonders if she should just try living instead.