***Feature*** Nicole Homer

Meeting Her Husband for Lunch

 

A taste bud is a curious machine:

it knows the stew but not the cook.

“The man in the kitchen…

Who is he?”

 

How can she know the stew but not the cook?

I answer every time: “Your husband.”

“Who…? Is he-…?

I was married once.”

 

I’ve answered her every time: “Your husband”

“That’s not him, but

I was married once.”

My grandfather comes in, pills in hand.

 

“But that’s not him.”

3 hours later, like an alarm clock,

my grandfather comes in, pills in hand:

Water and patience and a smile like forty years together.

 

3 hours later, like an alarm clock:

“Did I ever tell you how I met my husband?”

Waiting and patient and a smile like a fourth grader,

“You told me, but tell me again. I love hearing it.”

 

Did I tell you, yet, how I met my husband?”

My grandfather is in the kitchen listening to us,

“You told her, but tell her again. I need to hear it.”

“Well I was the prettiest thing…”

 

My grandfather is in the kitchen whispering to me,

It is twenty-five years ago and he is telling me the story:

“Well she was the prettiest thing

and she’d say, ‘ good lord, can that boy cook!’”

 

It is fifteen years ago and he is telling me the truth:

Your grandmother hasn’t been herself lately.

She finishes, “…and, good lord, could that boy cook!

He made the best stew.”

 

My grandmother hasn’t been herself in fifteen years

but the man in the kitchen

Still makes the best stew.

Her taste bud, at least, is a loyal machine.

 


A Warning to Boys Who Collect Shrapnel

For Sam White, historian, killed in his garage in 2008

while defusing a cannonball

making him the last casualty of the American Civil War.

 

A rusty bullet

travels slowly.

There is not the

hammer click gunpowder bang

of propulsion.

 

There is not even a hint

of bodies dancing like red capes

begging for the charge

nothing left of the in-through-out of ill-fated organs

and boys playing at war.

 

Do not doubt the metal

do not believe the rust.

It is a killing thing

and you are made of breath and beating

all muscle and bone.

 

A bullet is pierce and rupture

is blink and instant.

 

This sad thing is a soldier after a war

when killing is not quite a memory

but not a purpose either.

It is almost useless

like a warning to boys

who collect things

and imagine they have no past

 

Remember how, as a boy, you raced home

how you begged for the metal detector

how you followed its song.

 

How the fields murmured old secrets

and coughed up bullets.

 

There are things you cannot dodge.

This bullet has been moving towards you for 148 years.

 

When a bullet leaves a gun it never looks back.

If the marksman is good or lucky

the body,

the blood,

the chipped bones that scatter

the exit, unceremonious and quick

the after, the dirt and the waiting,

and then,

a boy with curious and uncalloused hands.

 

Holding the rusted metal,

you finger groove and time

dent and destiny

This is epitaph

etched down the sides of its body.

 

The kiss from the barrel

is just as must past

as much made of yesterdays

as your ex-wife’s hands

or the uniform, much too small now,

hidden in dustiest closet of your home.

 

Everything has a history,

even you

even the dirt

falling from the bullet

into to your hands.

 

Everything has a future

moving slowly towards it.

Even now your body is busy writing itself,

becoming less flesh

more dirt and ashes with every breath.

 

Remember how, as a boy, you held every bullet like a secret

how you thought war was made of stories and battlefields

how you imagined your body would endure

 

How the rust from someone else’s history

made your hands bloody


When My Newborn Daughter Holds My Grandfather’s Index Finger as I Did Thirty-three Years Ago 

 

I wonder when the days will stop pulling at my sweater

and let me be,

when I will mistake the steady decay of my body

for the calm of my living room chair,

when my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will stop asking my age

and file me under old:

that flat and static town

made of pictures and stories,

that precursor to unsurprising funerals,

that permission to marvel at the young

as if I had never lived there.


Red

 

Today I wear my hair up

with a red tie

so you know I’m half hussy,

half great idea.

 

This my mama’s dress

so I’m nothing new, either.

You can decide which is your favorite part;

I already know what

I like best.

 

I’m outside the house

waiting on a car

so you already know

I make bad choices. But at least I make something

of myself.

 

My dress red, too –

like my hair tie

and my lip stick

and these panties, got for $2 out a of a bin

at a store where everything is cheap including the clothes.

 

I don’t even like red

that much

but if you surrendering, you raise a white flag.

Don’t matter none if you don’t like white.


***Feature*** Brittany Rogers

Documentation:

 

The asthma attack

happened inside my class

we weren’t supposed to call 911

but the security guard did, and got fired a month

later. the girl’s mama arrived like this

was her daily lunchtime routine.

 

the fights burst into our hallways

like I was back on  Hoover

and 7 Mile cuz I had

skipped school with my dude

was minding my own business

when one girl winked at the other girls

man- except, here, at work,

I intervene-

it’s my job to not let black girls

be casualties in a tangled wreck.

 

I’ve gained back all the weight.

It hurts in places I can’t point to.

I don’t know the kids

names, still, in October,

but they speak mine like a prayer

and they waiting on me to show them a

deity  who make dead bodies walk out

of this burial ground.

 

Today, moths trapped themselves

in the broken light fixtures.

the mice didn’t come out

but i could still see the droppings

on the floor near my desk.

kill as many ‘and’s as you can in this poem.  can the poem somehow end on

this stanza instead of starting here?

 


Andromeda Talks Origin with Nymphadora

 

You began as most things

An accident

His lip curled in a shy kindness

A swarm of lies ballooning my cheeks

 

The spell to share pure blood

Shook our house

Like fireworks

Then fell to the ground- a shadow

Of dust.

 

Nothing worked. His smile grew.

My veins melted until I found them

useless

 

What is blood if it is  not

thick enough to rewrite

A lineage?

 

The Blacks have delivered the

Killing curse over less.

 

I shed my skin and grew

A new one that loved him

More than

itself


Brittany Rogers asks Nymphadora Tonks to Interpret Her Nightmare

Or

Mother Falls Asleep Watching Local News

 

I ended up in the

abandoned field by my house-

a forest of wands fixed 

on my swollen stomach. 

My stomach is an unwatched pot

brewing rust and chamomile.

The baby inside

senses the wands

and growls.

The wands bark back.

Then they are dogs

nipping at my brown ankles.

I smell of wet iron, a wounded pet

waiting to be swallowed whole.

They stand on hind legs

hands formed from

gunpowder and matches.

The baby shipwrecks 

into my pelvis. It wants

out. The hands point.

Ready.                                   

 


Brittany Rogers is a poet, mother, educator, and proud Hufflepuff. She is Co- Chief Editor for WusGood.Black, a literary magazine that highlights urban writers. Brittany has work published or forthcoming in Vinyl Poetry and Prose, Freezeray Poetry, Gramma, Black Nerd Problems, and Tinderbox Poetry. She is a fellow of VONA/ Voices and Pink Door Writing Retreat

***Featured Artist*** Siaara Freeman

Joy Lane is Not Dead

“Cleveland police said Stephens shot and killed Robert Godwin, Sr., the 74-year-old victim picked by Stephens at random. In one of the videos, Stephens approaches Godwin, Sr. on the street, and makes the victim say the woman’s name “Joy Lane” before fatally shooting him. During a separate video, Stephens said, “She’s the reason why I’m making this video. She is the reason what’s about to happen today.”

& some people are mad at Joy

for being

alive.   

 

     They be like:

 

                            how dare Joy

                            survive when

                            so much else did not?

 

& Joy is not safe in Cleveland

& Joy is not alone

 

                                           They be like:

 

                                                                   Joy left that boy

                                                                   & he went crazy

                                                                  

                                                                    Joy was supposed to be his

                                                                    said it out his own mouth

                                                                    it was all Joy

                                                                    fault all that blood

                                                                   that poor spilled

                                                                   stranger.

 

& some people wanna know where Joy is

hiding & some people say

the cops got Joy where

can’t nobody get Joy.

 

                                                     They be like:

                                                                             Joy did something terrible

                                                                             Joy must be some kind of hell

                                                                             cat. Joy probably used him & went

                                                                             to his homeboy or some shit. Joy

                                                                             aint loyal enough

 

                                                                             to niggas.

 

& some people say Joy just a woman

& what you expect from Joy

But guilt to follow?

       

                                                                                                   They be like:

 

                                                                                                  Joy ruined dude

                                                                                                  whole life. Caused him to kill

                                                                                                the old man & him

                                                                                                   self

                                                             

 

                                                                                                         Women be the root

                                                                                                        of all evil. Witches who rot

                                                                                                       a man into sin on any given

                                                                                                                       Sunday

                                                                                                                          Eve.

                                  

                                                                                                                                                                              


My Mother Is An Enchanted Portrait 
(from Delphi Riddle To Bellatrix Black While in Azkababan)

 

If I stare at you long enough you start to move, there is more
magic in this than I let on. I do not cry at you or on you instead
I dribble water to your face and make you do it for me, you are
my mother after all. Crying does make you look more

demented but what more could be expected of you? Walking away 
from the light just to run into it ? If my father split his soul 7 times
gave you a piece to hide, who did it hurt more? Did you not die

in his war, in his name, did you not pull me out, fierce as a wand?

your last shred of magic? the spell more want than love. I am called
a curse, but a curse is sometimes a gift opened the wrong way. Our
history is a worm feasted knowledge. Decay is a teacher best given

to the student who knows life to well, who dined daily with the evil
and did not choke. Doesn’t matter If I am the kettle or the pot I am
a Black, they say I am his child, and I am but I am more you

mother, a gust of steam scalding whatever is not the same broiling
urgency, lullaby sung to a wretched sea the sure sound of pain, loyal
like an obedient hatred. I sit here in the same prison

cell that was yours. The cell we share is big, sufficient in relinquishing
I say we, because I imagine you here with me, I don’t daydream us
into who we are not or into places we will never go. I don’t pretend you 
into apologizing

for the life you choose or for the ones you choose to take

I don’t. I think of us here, sirens, told we are too dangerous for the sea
too dangerous for the very thing that us brought us here. Some men
love the sea, other men despise it, but no man can really call it
theirs

alone. I think of us humming and the men become bloodless. I hear this
and rub cobwebs across my face until I feel 
fingers. Soon as I feel fingers I begin 
to bite. Soon as I begin to bite, my fear climbs

out of my chest and into your eyes. They call you
crazy, they say you can tell by your eyes. How 
they scream without you. The only part of your picture
that does not move. The only part trying to keep me
still.


Siaara Freeman is a friendly neighborhood hope dealer. She writes poems & performs them & publishes them. She has been published in the literary journals Elementz Review, Chicago Lit Review, TinderBox, Up The Staircase Quarterly, Texas Borderland Review, Rats’ Ass Review, and Freeze Ray.  She’s been on helly slam squads and even has coached a few.  She’s a BRAVE NEW VOICES ALUMNI and a coach of the 2017 Detroit Youth Poetry Slam Team.

She has made list of poets & tweeters & thrifters to watch! & has been interviewed by For Harriet on poetry as self care. She was nominated by Up The Staircase Quarterly for Best New Poet 2016.  She tries to feed people, including herself off this alone. She is a Slytherin & the current Lake Erie Siren.  She is a Connoisseur of Clap-back & Guilty Pleasures. I heard, she is growing her Afro so tall God mistakes it for a mic & speaks into her.

She is the Founder of Wusgood.black.

***Featured Artist*** Julian Randall

There is No Word for The Fear of White Women

And sure, a bird can be freedom or the converse. A wing’s implication is that flight is a methodical form of absence. But I’m saying more than that three stains became birds splayed against her shoulder blade, migrating nowhere. Or that I touched her back never suspecting wings even where the architecture implied it. This may not even be about fear, though it was abundant in the throbbing dark of her room. I might be the bird drifting somewhere out of habit and scarcity. I’m saying that I hated her almost as much as I hated what I would give to not be lonely. I hated her liquored breath, how she talked to me, the teeth of a hammer pleading a nail loose, the way she was the best I could do.


Ode to Being Called Mulignon at a Frat   Party & The Silence That Followed


Colloquially       it means Nigger
functionally       eggplant
my skin takes root     as his tongue
lolls wheat swollen in the swamp
of bodies dressed like a lynch mob
the theme of the party is hootenanny
the theme of the party is progress
the theme of the party is 2012
and everything is swaying
from the bass’ throbbing kiss

And still I know now the agony of silence

As my ex-roommate freestyles
and I know that nobody has heard him
Mulignon
               malignant
                                I am spreading?
No I root      I know       how this looks
if I go back to impulse     to throttle
to choke out     to pop off

I am the only evidence I have

And that is never enough
Praise now     the fallow knuckle
    the wilting of fists     the early winter     
how good I am at telling no one

How I had so much to lose
        beyond my skin
like his skin       ideal canvas for bruises
    to mark my turf      with peninsulas of loose blood
but still I own nothing
                                            but regret
   I pop my bones to the cadence of his voice
and wish the shifting of cartilage    could have been a song
I mean I did not flinch         I mean I did not lose my financial aid
that year           I mean if they gonna kick you out anyway
might as well break something
                                                      on the way out


Aubade With Panic Attack
After Ocean Vuong



Soft light
                      closed throat
I am        an aperture
   I flicker          in the yolk
of the light
                       fingers fail
to grasp at anything
        I pry open my own jaw
fumble for my phone
    between the yawning of graves panic attacks
play Alright
      a song always precedes the war

Alls my life I has to
                                       lie about where I am

                                    morning interrogation
                                    I audit my limbs
                                    for what I can still call mine

                                 by this point     I know I will pass out

                                I say often that I vomited
                                because a surplus of bile
                                is a better sin than a boy
                                with no lungs


                                       I close my eyes and see only blood
                                       there is enough crimson
                                       to name             a nothing

                                              my jaw is brimming with steam
                                                   I gasp       until the boy in my mouth
                                            comes loose    

                                                        a new boy dies each night
                                                  his name settles in my gums
                                            and blooms by dawn


Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. A Pushcart Prize nominee he has received fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT and the Watering Hole and was the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. Julian is the curator of Winter Tangerine Review’s Lineage of Mirrors and a poetry editor for Freezeray Magazine. He is also a cofounder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Nepantla, Rattle Poets Respond, Ninth Letter, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol and African Voices among others. He is a candidate for his MFA in Poetry at Ole Miss.

Mikey Cody Apollo

On What It Means to Love the Drug Dealer” –

                   

The most dangerous game I have ever played was simple:
Drive with unarmed black men in my car                                 and wait.

Wait for sirens,
wait for flashing lights.

                        Wait.

I realize this after another black man
is shot on camera in front of his girlfriend
                                                               and his daughter.

The video,
                            it haunts my Facebook
                                                                               for days.

Lingers like a ghost
is shared like toys and secrets                                 let out of the bag,

like
                         like weed let out of the bag,
                         like Xanex let out of the bag.

I cannot turn off the image of red blood
on this man’s white shirt.

Of censored faces,

                         and bodies that are too black,                          too explicit
to be seen by white eyes.

This man, he haunts my Facebook.
The photos are endless.

He wore ties,
taught children,
                     did everything right and still managed
                                                     to lose his life.

So what does that mean for black men who ain’t that?

For the young boys that wear hoodies
                                                                and grills
                                                                              and sell baggies?
I wonder this as I drive the drug dealer home.

Praise be the way he laughs.
                     A cacophony of flowers blooming                 and hip hop.

The way he is unapologetic in his moves.

I think of this when his eyes are red
                                                                                 and when his t-shirt is not.

The most dangerous game I have ever played was driving
                  black boys home,

A mystery of whether or not my car smells like pastime.
A shot in the dark,
                 in the dark,
                                           in the dark skin that both shields
                                                                                                                  and exposes
him.

Black boys be some type of magic,

 

whether they drug dealers
             or teachers
                                                        or homeless
                                                                                                                 or child.

Armed or unarmed.


                                                                                             Ain’t that magic?


The way they disappear and reappear
                     in hashtags,
how they are suddenly evaporated
behinds white hands and officers.

Black boys be allusion most days,
and the only way I can keep them

                   him alive

                   is by holding him in my passenger seat.

                  I drive the drug dealer home.
                  In turn, I build a home in the drug dealer,

                 despite them making him villain.
                 Make him monster,
                 the way they make him everything
                 but beautiful.


“13 Nudes: A Recollection of Nightmares”

Based off Anne Carson’s The Glass Essay

1.

In my dream, my first love is drowning at the expense of his own hand.

He places his head beneath the waves, exorcises the demons,

and is baptized inside a cloud of bubbles.

When he floats to the top,

I am on a distant shore,

burying my toes into the sand,

unaware of his shipwrecked body.

When I awake, I am covered in salt water.

I remove a seashell from the back of my throat,

place it to my ear and listen

as he screams on the other end.

2.

I do not tell my therapist about the recurring vision

of the man in my closet.

3.

Every time I close my eyes,

my room goes up in flames.

I am not sure if I am doing this on purpose.

4.

At first, the funniest nightmares are the ones about zombies.

They teeter like unsuspecting card houses,

dragging their rotting feet and bare knuckles.

They stroll right past me.

5.

When my friend was dying,

I thought of ways to convince the hospital

to let me sleep in the lobby.

I needed a place to store all the waiting.

I did not want to miss anything

more than I knew I would eventually

miss him.

The night before his funeral,

I slept so good,

you may have thought I was the one who died.

I am startled awake by his laughter.

6.

Alex and I have been broken up

for two years.

In 0.59 seconds,

Google produces 605,000 results

for “dreams about drowning”.

“Repressed issues are coming back to haunt you.”

“You are feeling overwhelmed by emotions.”

Results for years passed between us.

604,998 more reasons to love him more than Blake.

7.

There is a tiny voice

apologizing to the Devil.

I am not quite sure if the voice belongs to me.

I am not quite sure if I am asleep to begin with.

8.

Zombies do not eat other zombies.

Zombies do not waste calories on the dead.

9.

One night, I am in an elevator,

and right when it is about to fall,

I become conscious that I am dreaming.

I let it plummet anyway.

10.

After Blake and I break up,

I stop dreaming of the ocean.

 

11.

The zombie dreams are not funny anymore.

12.

Sometimes, I don’t know why I wake up scared,

but I would rather wake up scared than not at all.

13.

The goriest nightmare is the one where people

are stabbing themselves with needles.

Google says, “You need to mend a relationship or situation that has gotten out of hand.”

Everyone asks, “Which relationship? What hurts?”

I reply,

“Where do you want me to start?”


“What We Fail to Admit”  

 

Writing poems has always been more about others 

and less about me and all that I do. 

I have a heart consumed and smothered by lovers.  

I’ll never write notes about myself the way I do you. 


MIKEY CODY APOLLO is a spoken word artist who was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Much of her work revolves around her experiences as a Black woman and an intersectional feminist. Apollo has been writing since the second grade, and is passionate about both art and education. Her favorite film of all time is “Moonlight”, and her favorite poet is Kendrick Lamar.

**FEATURED POET ** Simone Person

on learning you love a dude who ain’t shit

if you were honest with yourself you knew he wasn’t shit the first time he said he’d never heard a Prince song when he didn’t know what challah was had never tasted cornbread and his AAVE was cobbled from Stillmatic but here in your sad college town he’s cute a little short and maybe the dick is on that staccato stroke but here you are pineapple upside down here you lost the fat girl bravado you built and every time he looks at you it feels like you have a chance like maybe everyone was wrong you aren’t a professional victim so when he kisses you don’t think of the ocean and the brine and the dying coral and the garbage plastic island floating somewhere learn to crave his teeth straining across your tongue how he grabs your ass so hard there’s crescents denting your hips teach yourself  it’s  just  how  desirable  you  are  not  his  attempts  to  cum quick  so  he  can  leave earlier


Exclusionary Black Girl

 

i fire bricks place them around my feet when i open my fifth grade locker and find folded paper slipped through the vents, graphite me limp and swinging from the approximation of a tree and i take it to my teachers and they hold a meeting and the white boy who drew it, who’s been whispering porch monkey to me for weeks, says he couldn’t have done it ‘cause shoot i can’t draw like it got stolen from the louvre and that settles it the rest of the school year slips by before i even learn what porch monkey means

 

i smooth stones stack them up to my knees when my white boyfriend says racism is wrong but nigger’s just a word and talking about it reheats the issue, slavery was so long ago, even though it’d only take a few hours to drive to a plantation and the grass growing over my ancestors’ graves is short and soft, even though my grandmother was born sixty-seven years after it ended, you got a white mom so it’s not like you’re Black for real anyways

 

i put a straw roof over my head close the gaps with handfuls of mud as the white bartender in the white bar swoops over me and a friend to serve white patrons, his face twists into surprise after we say something, mouth folds into i didn’t see you shrugs when asked what he thinks that looks like, and i know he’d never really see us at all as he turns back to his white patrons when we leave

i dig a moat boil water to pour over my walls when my brown

boyfriend defends the antiblackness of a non-Black Latina classmate, you can’t really get mad ‘cause it’s not like she’s white so what’s the big deal, all you want is community with other Black girls, it’s exclusionary, we need solidarity for the revolution and i want to know why the foundation has to start on my back but i don’t say anything, just build so good that no matter how long the street lights have been on or how far my name carries in the night wind nobody can find me again


Erasure of the Suicide Note I Wrote Before My Unsuccessful Attempt

 

I don’t want                                                     me,

                                 I’m not “here.”

                                                 I                           want

to leave

                                      to be split                

                      be sad                      in better terms,

                to hurt                                 for long                                        I’m successful

I’m                         dogma                                    weighed

           heavily                                        

                            spirits, don’t want       here.                           go.


Accretion

 

as a child i envied

venus fly traps

their ability to snap

themselves shut

to turn invasion

into strength

 

my body flowered into disappointment

 

i was a warm home

for boys who kiss with their teeth,

with hungry hands that have seen too much

 

i am shrouded under a crown of fury

 

a wolf of a girl

i prayed to be an orchard

legs closed, eyes to god

 

i am everything i never wanted

 


oneironaut

i don’t dream but sleep

like an actual baby—

every two hours and i’m up

i trace growing ceiling shadows

as the moon shifts and turns to sun

 

over the summer pain

bloomed in my hip fell

down my leg pooled across my shin

now i don’t sleep—

worse than a baby a boy i can’t love

dreams dreams hard wakes complaining

of gauzy hands pulsing

around his skinny ankles asks me voice sleep-thick

to follow him

for a glass of water he’s afraid

to go alone there’s ghosts

in the hall a fog of a man

crouched near the baseboard

 

asleep he tells me he loves me

whispers names for our future children

begs me to hold him the plump

of his cheeks soft against my throat he won’t

remember this in the morning

 

when he is gone

even his body’s indent left

on my mattress puffed out again

i’ll call my mother asking if she dreams

no she says not since meeting your father

this is a joke and not this is bitter and not

but i know she does

 

once she dreamt of finding

me in her kitchen my eyes black holes

my mouth a starless void

another time:

closing her eyes on the freeway

the wheel sliding from her fingertips

car drifting to the next lane metal against guardrail sparks a snap

not that i’d ever do it she says

it’s just a dream


Simone grew up in Michigan and Ohio, and is a second year Fiction MFA candidate at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Five on the Fifth and Beecher’s Magazine, and her chapbook was a finalist selection for Black Lawrence Press’s Spring 2016 Black River Chapbook Competition.

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.

**FEATURED ARTIST** Rachel Wiley

2016

The year our lord ripped the land  line from the wall/the year white men could time travel and their white wives used their lily soft hands to crank the dial backwards while the rest of us watched/the year my mother got my eye color wrong/ the year no one at all came and I sat in that empty parking lot for hours thrilling at the possibility in every oncoming headlight/the year hours felt like months/the year she left you anyway/the year without Sunday mornings and no absolution for anyone/ the year I got stuck with these sins dyed onto my fingertips, these transgressions a splintered chicken bone in my throat.

 


 

Ghazal for the White Girl I Keep Getting Mistaken For

 

People keep asking me for what you owe like I’m another, White Girl

Black father just happened to fall in love with a rather white girl

You unload your slur heavy tongue when you think the coast is clear

But I see you with that shit cause I’m undercover, white girl

You drink a venti soy latte with extra privilege spice (girl)

corn rows in your hair Columbus discovered , white girl

Swerve to avoid the black bodies on your news feed

but post up that new Iggy cause you’re hip hop lover, white girl

white girl tears heavier than history

Cause you’re not a racist just another badgered, white girl

 


Intersectional Feminism (aka Actual Fucking Feminism) Plays the Dozens with White Feminism

 

White feminism is about as feminist as Dr Pepper is a Medical Doctor

as Rachel Dolezal is Black

 as an orgasm with Donald Trump is real

White Feminism got 1 black friend (Raven Simone), calls itself intersectional

still show up at your Halloween party in black face though

thinks Beyoncé is overrated but Taylor Swift is a feminist though

thinks twerking is a revolution on Miley but wants to know why Nicki   “won’t respect herself” though

White Feminism, What’s Good?

White Feminism doesn’t appreciate being called WHITE Feminism.

White Feminism doesn’t understand why it’s always got to be about race, doesn’t see color and thinks your obsession with race is frankly divisive.

Besides, Meryl Streep says we’re all descendants of Africa, anyway.

and

White feminism swears it will unlock the door to equality and let us all in if we will just hoist her through this window

on our backs

and ain’t that just like white feminism always getting up on someone else’s back.

 


Prime Cuts

 

Every time I go thru airport security

despite their pervy x-ray glasses,

my belly gets an intimate blue gloved rub down

They say I alarmed in that area

and don’t I always?

Perhaps I should submit a butcher’s diagram of all of the things they might find in my fat.

 

The upper left quadrant is primarily made up swallowed bubble gum  and of the hearts of my enemies.

 

The bottom left IS actually made up of snack cakes

suspended in feelings,

a jello mold of angst and sugar,

if you are trying to find my shame it should be there somewhere but there are better things blocking the way.

 

A humble museum of loves lost and kept

occupies the upper right portion,

there is a gift shop full of shit lovers have left behind

it really is a must see.

 

The bottom right is where all of my awesome is stored

it looks like an illegal fireworks trailer,

if you jostle it too much there will be a loud

and beautiful explosion.

This is where I get all of that confidence you so are

perplexed by,

the very thing that likely sounded the alarm.

 

The fucks I give about what anyone thinks of my terrorizing body

are all stored in my bellybutton

notice how it is an empty bowl waiting to be filled.

 


Promissory

For Dez

 

We are far and away from the days we were homecoming queens of the convenience store parking lot, fuel pump island girls who smelled of candy and gasoline, We welcomed in the cars whose bass shook the ground like furious dancing gods,

and offered ourselves up to them

when we knew what our youth and cleavage and the well-timed lick of a blow pop could get us,

but not yet what they would cost us

we never bothered to read the promissory notes we signed to be young

and girl

and without curfew.

We assumed the terms to be ours.

 

We could not know what we would leave behind in wandering naive from our hilltop

that we would come to know what it means to be debt-full

and woman

and still with no one is calling us home.

 

Girls are taught that our worth lies under the earth of another girl’s feet

and in the hot breath of men

You and I have managed a double knotted string from your tin can heart to mine

this guide line leads me back to all of our safe when I dive too far into the dark.

Again and again.

I thank the rumble Gods for you.

 

One of these days we’ll scrape enough gas money from the floor mats to run away

some place where we don’t have to wear this skin like bark.

We will not spend any more years piling on scabs until we are crab shelled laughter ghosts.

We will be unsalted hot pearls.

We will stand on a beach tasting a salt spray not made of Midwest wind and tears after everyone else has gone to sleep

we will peel down to the soft fruit

and it for once it won’t hurt

and for once it will be on our terms.


Rachel and The Bestest (Dez)- 17 years strong 
Rachel Wiley is a performer, poet, feminist, and fat positive activist from Columbus, Ohio. Rachel has represented Columbus at multiple National Poetry Slam Competitions and was a finalist twice in 2011. She is on staff at Writing Wrongs Poetry Slam and the co-host/co-founder of the Columbus Queer Open Mic. Rachel has toured nationally performing at Slam Venues, Colleges, and Festivals. Her first full length collection of poems, Fat Girl Finishing School, was published by Timber Mouse Publishing in 2014. Her work has appeared on Upworthy, The Huffington Post, The Militant Baker, and Everyday Feminism. She also really likes stickers.

**FEATURED ARTIST** Kearah Armonie

Dear Erykah

If you were to ask me my religion a year ago I would say baduizm. I’ve seen you live, twice. Both free, both restoring my faith. When you sang pack light I knew you were singing to me.

When you stated via twitter that girls should wear knee length skirts to school to avoid arousing their male teachers I knew you were talking to me.

 

Ripped booty shorts, choker wearing, crop-top rockin’ kind of girl whose demise will only be my own fault, who should know better than to slip up between the teeth of a hungry man, to walk not with fear of the attack but knowing I am to be attacked,

      preyed upon,

      hunted,

      gazelle in a lions den.

Every man be lion and every street be their turf.

 

That must be what you were saying,

 

That my body is not my own.
That your body is not your own.
That your body of music is not mine either.

 

Do you know of how many little bag ladies you have created now?

The weight so heavy of knowing your body is a police state you cannot flea?

Feeling refugee in your own home? Victim blamed by your own momma?

 

When you said it is in a man’s nature to lust after, prey upon, be attracted to, or sexually assault young girls once they reach puberty; This is not the first time I’ve questioned God…

 

but I haven’t listened to your music ever since.


Tankas for A Seat at the Table

I’m gonna look for

My body now she said and

Then I came to learn

My body was missing too

What I claim may not be mine

 

I guess to be Black

Is to lose your own body

Though it be stolen

and go look for it your damn

Self. I’ll be back, like real soon

 

I tell white not to

Say the word nigga, they say

It anway. This

Is an act of violence, but

When has white not been violent

 

I wake this morning

Feeling shattered, robbed and stolen

Yet, still I say

Daily affirmation: Don’t

Let anyone steal this magic

 

A white boy touched my

hair, I felt myself start to

fade, to dwindle a-

way. Less than, less than, sand in

The wind. Yet, I am still here

 

If celebrating

me seems to mean I am dis-

respecting you, then

so be it. Sit in the heat

of your anger while I shine


Love of My Life

I bump The Sun’s Tirade and wonder if every bitch and every hoe is me.

 

KanYe West called his own wife a bitch and I guess that’s cool now.

Knowing I could still get wifed.  Most inanimate objects get bought.

I can go from toy to trophy.

 

Me and my good homegirl skip this line in one of our favorite songs,

We gon’ play with the mind and run a game on her

And take shawty to the crib, put the pain on her.

Singing along would just make me feel dizzy, incoherent,

make me feel like no one will believe me.

 

The hottest rap song to come out of Brooklyn this summer was sung by a girl.

Not only a girl but a lesbian,

         Dike

         Butch

         AG/whatever.

Tatted up, keep the hammer right next to her, probably rock your shit for calling her by the wrong nickname.

Not seen for how she deviates from this mainstream she riding now but used as scapegoat to carry misogyny on her back, just cuz they can’t lay her on her back?

As if the only room for a woman in hip-hop is if she objectifies herself?

Male interviewers question exactly what she means about a shorty giving her head then criticize her for treating women as if we are only here for sex,

and I am not too sure how the misogynist is here.

 

As if your fave ain’t been on that, as if your president’s fave aint been on that.

This is number 1 on everyone’s top 10.

 

But it’s okay because I love this shit

Because my father rep the bronx and I love that shit

Because hip-hop as my boyfriend is BDSM and I love that shit

Because before I had voice, I had this and I love this shit

 

and I have learned, being the Black Woman in the room often means

loving something that will never love you back.


KearahArmonie(Kearmonie) is a poet, spoken word artist, MC, Filmmaker, Blogger, and Writer from Brooklyn, NY. She recently completed her B.A. in Documentary Film Production at Brooklyn College, where she hosted and facilitated events as a three-time Brooklyn College Slam Team member, and their 2016 Grand Slam Champion. The team went on to rank 12th in the nation at the College Union’s Poetry Slam Invitational(CUPSI) 2016. Having been performing spoken word since 2011 she is now a mentor and teaching artist, continuing to perform all over NYC. Her most recent documentary short, “BLK GRL POET” a spoken word driven chronicle of the Black Lives Matter protests in NYC, has been featured in the Women of African Descent Film Festival and The 34th Annual Brooklyn College Film Festival.