Review of ‘Dirty. Mouth. Kiss.’ by Taylor Steele

Anatomy
Artist: Ashley Tenn:
Ashley Tenn is a doodler and watercolor painter who wasn’t really supposed to be either of those things. She earned her BFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at Emerson College in Boston and has been hiding out at a local book store ever since. Find more of her work at
IG: a10nn

This book is me saying

“fuck it, I’mma let the ugly out’

Because aint that shit beautiful

In its unrelenting need to be heard?

Aint I? – Taylor Steele

 

This final passage from the dedication page of Taylor Steele’s Dirty Mouth Kiss not only advances the thesis of the book but also puts the onus on the reader to confront the grill of each poem, to look at how the content and structure of the poems mutate, disfigure and reapply new faces, dance in hell/after death.

Taylor dares you to die, to coax or tickle or yank your demons out and blow their faces off with sawed off, close-range, messy precision.

In the poem Anatomy, Taylor names herself through disassembly, starting the poem with tangible, recognizable parts and then redefining the meaning of “parts of the body”, referring to her body as library then weapon then finally a unifying but fractured summation “When I first learned about my body/ I learned it in parts/Learned it in broken”.  The ability to deconstruct trauma and spit out a diagnosis of self is a repeating process in this collection.  In that way, it mimics or creates a therapy through the spilling of memory.  

Taylor shares specific accounts in the poem I Remember where she speaks about essentially being shaken down by a neighborhood friend: “and there was born my first ultimatum/she told me I had to give her my dollar/or she’d stop being my friend”. The encounter ends with a negotiation “…she was the one/who was always dirty/so I gave it to her. angrily. /she saw that I was angry and still smiled.”  What part of the body relents and which part silently screams ‘get out of here with that bullshit!!’?  

The repression of that burning, screaming voice is further described in Another Work Email Weeks Before My Last Day in the lines “boss man asks without asking for me to do a thing that is not actually my job/and my gut calls for the army, is never tired of the fight/but I am” Then I wonder if repression and relent are bad words or if they are just closed doors that eventually lead to an opening.  Can you heal yourself by sinking into yourself even if yourself is a misshapen, dangerous outcast to the world.?

Ode to Medusa focuses this question, forcefully removes all eyes that look with the intent of taming or forcing a black woman to conform to a specific way of being.   

“You gift me each snake’s name/They lick my fingers, wrap each one with their slit tongues. /A care my hands have never known.”

these lines display a christening, the imparting of love from one shunned image to another, a love that allows for the unleashing of an unashamed identity.

When I got to the end of this Dirty Mouth Kiss a litany of descriptors flooded my brain: this book is a liberation song/a love letter to all people figuring it out/be ok with any emotion you feel, say it, out loud/the people who have hurt you are characters you can control/Your body is yours, Your scars are yours, Your story is yours but also someone else’s and that is power/Taylor Steele is one of the most necessary writers I have encountered, she poured all of herself into this work that is  a balm and a cool breeze that makes you want to praise, lift up your hands and expose all of yourself to whoever, without caring. “Now all of my doors are open.” – Review by Kirwyn Sutherland

CLICK HERE TO BUY Dirty. Mouth. Kiss. by Taylor Steele
The Press: Pizza Pi Press:
we’re a small DIY operation based out of boston, with arms in illinois & nyc. under our umbrella, we have a literary magazine, a chapbook series, and an anthology series. our editorial team is made up of poc & lgbtq+ creatives who are committed to amplifying the voices of marginalized artists. community is our most sacred pillar. we’re also very dedicated to pizza.

FEATURE – Taylor Steele

Self-diagnosis (Part 1): October 28, 2016

 

i am the worst

kind of roommate

i drink your coffee

cook with your extra virgin

olive oil

and i don’t ask first

i leave dishes in the sink

tell myself

if you ask why

i’ll just say

i’m depressed

which is a child’s

tantrum way of saying

i didn’t know better

and i’ll throw in

i’m sorry

for extra measure

to keep the beat

and i know

that ain’t enough

know depressed

don’t pay the bills

sorry don’t marinate

your chicken

don’t keep the mice

from this harvest

and if you got

something to say

i’ll be in my room

crying to Sara Bareilles

and Goodbye, Love

on repeat until i die

or the xanax kicks in

so tell me how

you feel

tell me how to feel

tell me to

feel something

and you’re speaking now

so many words

and i hear you

i’d say something but i can’t…

it’s just…

sorry…

so depressed over here


Self-diagnosis (Part 5): December 7, 2016

 

today, the man you love will never love you

he leaves you for the 3rd time in 7 weeks

over the 4 months you spend not being

anything to him worthy of a name

 

today, there is no shame in the fact

that after he leaves,

you get so drunk at a bar

you go home with a couple

you have spent only 15 minutes dancing with

that is enough time for you to say yes

when they ask you to get in the car

it is the first time you are

having sex with someone in love

it is okay that it is not with you

right now, their love is enough

it is okay that this will not be enough tomorrow

it is okay that you want the woman more

her touch is gentle and she asks you for nothing

she says she will take care of you

and you know she means her tongue and not her heart

but today it is enough

she tells you, you are beautiful

and it is okay to believe her

though you don’t want to be beautiful ever again

when the man puts his dick in your mouth

it is okay that you do not want it

though you thought you would

it is okay that it is too soon

to be with another man

that you want him to remind you

of the man you love

and he doesn’t

he reminds you of all the men you fucked before him

all sweat and dirt and wanting you only for a night

it is okay that sometimes you feel

the man you love only wants you for a night

 

 

and it’s just that that night keeps happening

it is okay that after the sex you go home and cry

because it is too soon

because you have to learn that the hard way

 

 

today, the man you love is probably laughing somewhere

he is probably happy

he is probably not thinking of you

it is okay

today, you laughed and were happy and did not think of him, too

this will keep happening

 

today, you imagine what it would be like

to have sex with someone in love

with you,

who asks you for nothing

he knows you can not give him,

who takes all that you can and gives it a name

a diagnosis you can live with

and you think of how the other diagnoses,

the ones that require medication and patience will not scare him

it is okay that the thought of this makes you cry

that you are hurting

though you thought you wouldn’t

because you didn’t think you were even capable of love

because you didn’t think anyone

would want to be with you in the first place

and someone wanted you for four months

though he does not want you now or in the way you need

it is okay to need, Taylor

because you are human, Taylor

and humans need

 

today, you wake up on the couch for the 5th day in a row

it is okay that you don’t know

how to sleep in your bed yet, it

with all its space and empty and cold

where a body used to be

you wake up in pain and tired

 

it is okay that you are tired

it is okay to want to forget for a little while

it is okay to close your eyes to all of this

so sleep, love

today, let’s just sleep


Self-diagnosis (Part 6): December 13th, 2016

 

I’ve begun the business of killing myself slowly.

I’ve only had coffee today, and

it made me feel like I was either going to throw

up or pass out on the train ride to work.

I still feel it twisting my guts into a splintering.

I think to myself, oh what a beginning!

The doctor this morning tells me I’m such a good patient cuz

I take shots so good. Funny.

I’m here cuz I take shots so good.

I cry when she leaves the room.

Because what if I ever loved myself as much as I distrust gravity?

If I loved myself as much as the chemical imbalance is

indifferent to the suffering it causes.

The doctor comes back, says to put my clothes on, that

I am good. to. go.

I am stone faced after that.

I have a jaw built of the memories of every person

I’ve let into my mouth who I knew did not intend to stay.

And all I can swallow now is my pride,

is acid, is the promise to never eat again.

Yeah, that’s part 2 of the killing of myself!

The body consists of, what, only 70% water?

I welcome the challenge,

chase the coffee with Poland Springs,

wonder if I can drown myself this way.

My mother texts me, asks me how I am.

She texts again 2 hours later when I don’t respond.

I say I’m fine

And I am. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.

I’m finally sure of something other than

how well I sleep alone, how I don’t move in my sleep,

how like a corpse in a casket I’ve already been.

My best friend texts me, asks me how I am.

I say I feel like I’m dying, but I don’t tell her

at whose hands or that I’m begging myself for this.

She tells me, it will get better.

And I believe her.

 

It’s just, I don’t want it to.

Get better.

For what? To be back here again next week? No,

I want to sink into the moon’s deepest crater.

I want to disappear into the fog, evaporate and dampen all of your faces.

This is how I will cry from now on, be the rolling mist

on an abandoned building’s windows.

The doctor said she’ll call if anything comes up positive.

The latest boy in my jaw said he’ll never call again.

My mother says she will call later

to ask if I’ve made it home,

though I don’t know that such a place exists for me.

Positive, Never, Home.

I wonder if the slowest way to kill myself

is to never find a home.


Taylor Steele is a Bronx-born, Brooklyn-based writer and performer. Her work can be found at such esteemed publications as Apogee Journal, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Rogue Agent, and more. Her chapbook “Dirty.Mouth.Kiss” is available on Pizza Pi Press. Taylor has written for The Body is Not an Apology, Drunken Boat Journal, and Philadelphia Printworks. She is an internationally ranked spoken word artist, placing 5th and 6th in the Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Most importantly, Taylor is a triple-Taurus who believes in the power of art to change, shape, and heal.

Anthony Febo

I recognize my work uses superhero’s as the main talking point, but for me it is more about what they represent than who they actually are. You do not have to know anything about Captain America to see that he is patriotic, or know anything about Wolverine to know he is a bit of an animal.

In working with an idealized version of these characters, I am able to use them to communicate the pressures we put on ourselves.


Most days you can catch Febo on stage or in front of a classroom involved with poetry one way or the other. On the other days however, he is definitely walking up and down the toy aisle of Target, at a thrift store, or in his studio. After working at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston for the last three years and talking to teenagers about the art in the galleries, he started to develop a sense for what he liked and what he didn’t. Now, Febo intertwines the way he see’s these superhero’s in in an idealized way and the he see’s the world in a socially conscious way to start a dialogue about the two.

Darryl Terrell

Resolutions – 2017

– Get out of my head (stop over thinking)
-Buy Shea Butter (keep my skin soft, and hopefully the fuck boys away)
-Breathe
-Finish reading the books I started
-Get a gym membership
-Keep the gym membership
-Use the gym membership
-Loose weight
-Get to a size 46 Pants
-Be happy
-Breath
-Take my time with my art
-Stop being scared to go
-Graduate grad school
-Get a artist residency
-Make more work
-Control my depression
-Breath
-Find a real job (as my momma says)
-Decide where to move
-Apply for fellowship at The Studio Museum of Harlem
-Breath
-Loose weight
-Stay out of my head
-Love myself more
-Harder deeper
-Stop searching for love in dick
-Stop having sex
-Breath


Jaylynn Hampton

I’m Jaylynn Hampton, a 19 yr old aspiring model  from Columbus,Ohio. I recently decided that I should take a break from smoking for my New Years resolution, for a number of reasons; One important one was to make sure I wasn’t becoming dependent on it, mainly because I kept finding myself smoking just to pass out and also becoming very anti social and wanting to stay in the house.

I also noticed that I was eating a lot, gaining a lot of weight, losing energy and it was surprisingly making my anxiety worse than it’s ever been. It has been 9 days since I’ve stopped and I honestly feel great! Specifically way more energized and clear headed. It feels good to prove to myself I’m not dependent and that I also don’t need to be high to enjoy life ❤

Nicole White

_______Black Lesbian Navigates Internet Porn: A Sestina

 

black ebony big breas bo tits lesbian click

Ghetto Dykes really? POPUP Melissa (1.1 miles away)

just sent you a fuck request girlbye click scroll

Two Hot Scissor Sistas Grinding wonder who

came up with that title It’s All Pink Inside Scene

6 is this the porn version of #AllLivesMatter

 

Burning Hot Ebony Sluts sounds like a medical matter

ooo actual names Skin Diamond feels problematic but click

skip the chit chat wait was she reading a book this scene

cute yaaas you betta make that gas station romance novel look away

from the camera please ugh no she ain’t even eating it right who

moans like that I can’t with this weird yawn giggling scroll

 

pregnantpuss: you can see the chemistry between these two scroll

makeme_leak2: black bitches don’t do it for me no matter

how big their tits and asses POPUP Kaitlyn (300m away) who’s

going to suck your dick tonight I actually hadn’t thought about it Kaitlyn click

fat big onion booty Latina lesbian pov click scroll hover over hover away

mmmm reverse cowgirl I wonder if she talks dirty in Spanish in this scene

 

Gloria Anzaldúa is shaking her head down on me right now Scene

2 Sophia Castello click dayum gurl is he really wearing timb boots scroll

lngrthnurs: what’s the name of that song? aww community a home away

from phones bonerbabe: Nate Turnher = AIDS kush_squirt: doesn’t matter

I’d still take black cock yaaas to AIDS advocacy but… click

white people love saying cock open they mouth just like a rooster who

 

likes and shares porn videos 1,245,178 views I wonder if I know anyone who

has a porn profile this is taking forever I feel like I’ve seen

let’s try categories anal|bukkake|cartoon|feet|forwomen click

scroll Halle Berry Bares It All in Monster’s Ball ya’ll got jokes scroll

POPUP Busty milf is on live chat want to accept her invitation? aw consent matters

but I’ll pass click scroll Hot Asian Dominates While Her Wife is Away

 

click she bad yaaas to the bush wait what who is this dude why can’t I look away

I wish I knew what they were saying what type of what is he doing who

censors a dick in a porno wait no she actually looks scared shit what’s the matter

with the wifi reload fast forward I wonder if my roommate can hear this scene

through my headphones omg no this is not what I scroll

Hot Asian Whore Dominated While His Wife is Away ugh click


I Know His Understanding of Cis-Male Privilege Shouldn’t Make My Nipples Hard

 

but I’ve got two neon gumdrops

 

he recites bell hooks &

the frosting between my legs

a finger licking spread

 

when I won’t let my hands applaud

his intersectional feminism

my labia becomes a tambourine

 

he curses slut shaming &

my thighs can’t choke the rattle

my eyes beg him to pull & smack

 

he asks & I struggle to make

my consent sound like an artifact

I know he doesn’t deserve this

 

poem all he did was write his name

on somebody else’s homework

he is standing on the shoulders

 

of trash bags tomorrow he will trip

on a hefty drawstring  

but tonight justice is a baton

 

of flesh & I cum in fists

find every pore to cup this

salivation rush to thrust & mold

melt before the clock strikes

 

hindsight & my vagina is fired for

 

charging human decency as foreplay

 

Chantel Fletcher

Resolutions

– Stop taking birth control
– start herb garden and gain more knowledge in alternative medicines
– get a real girlfriend; I feel like people don’t take you seriously when you say you’re bi, lastly,
– make my diet more alkaline. r
– #PlantBasedPussy2k17. 

Najah Scruse

A Resolution – 2017

I’m a 24 year old black writer from Detroit. I telling stories and being creative but I don’t think I give myself the opportunity to let people see me. This is the year for that.

Kai Johnson

LEVIES

 

when flood-waters rise,

i dream of setting fire

to all my levies.


BRIGHTLY

 

we often forget

the sun is burning alive.

from here, we see light.