Mia White | Beauty Bucks’ Throne Room

Beauty Bucks’ Throne Room

Marmalade stucco with doily crowns.

An accordion divider that finally shutters

after a long, convincing kiss

from the tip of my boot.

A soap opera plays on the big box

outside. Tinny declarations of love

leak in through gossamer corners.

My quiet skin is whitened

by a chain of lights above the sink

that wink and stutter as they please.

The air is wet and flammable,

a bouquet of hairspray that sleeves my arms.

When I stretch I’m touching opposite walls.

Taped right to that coppery paint,

laminate slick in the dim light, a sign:


If you sprinkle when you tinkle

please be neat and wipe the seat!

Safiya Washington | Three Poems

Hit ‘Em With The Left

“We from Brooklyn my nigga,

Sometimes you gotta embrace the ratchet.”

L Ambitious

I like to pearl my Backwoods.

It’s an ego trip

when I’ve found a way to plug every hole.

Everyone else wanna quit,

Garnish that shit and start fresh with a new pack.

& Then there’s niggas like us,

Who have never had the luxury of quit

& Tarnish.

Who like fixing the impossible shit,

Take pride in the perfect pull

That can come from the rubble. – We come from the rubble.

The chard brownstones imploding on themselves still give us heat.

This is all we’ve ever known: to make magic of the black and burning.

The way the halo still sits pretty,

Even when its barbwire tented.

We’ve tried humans too,

The type with crowns that dissolve in strong wind.

Watch the smoke unwind every knot in brow & disappear.

We choose the ones oblivious to the holes in their overcoat

-That’s how we used to be,

Rolled up

At the bottom of the pack.

Watching Brooklyn overflow with new white and leaving brown,

Forget about niggas like us.

Until walking down Halsey Street felt too safe to be our home.

If you treat people like they don’t count

When they rebel they’ll act like it.

Y’all lined him up perfect:

Staggered,                                                                    spread,                             blending with the shadows

-The way they expect us to.

He hit the floor after a mollywop that woke Stuy’s beasts & we knew

From that & the quickness of sirens concerned,

He didn’t belong here.

This was one we could throw away.

Just maybe they’d think twice about taking the block we rode grocery carts up and down and calling them their own.

Just maybe he’ll know what it feels like to be selectively forgotten

& Think twice about coming out after dark

Unprepared to fight for morning

– The way we always have.

I understood.

So I did what I do best,

Pearled the loose ends.

Tucked tight all the things we didn’t want to come back to us.

Left him gutted on the corner like

Now, just maybe, he’ll go back to his own fucking neighborhood

and leave our hood shit alone.


Lessons from Lil Kim #1

When a man says he got you,

When he cleans the glass from your feet,

Unbraids every knot in back,

Pulls skeleton from department store

And swells belly full,

It is okay if he leaves sometimes.

It is okay to become stencil on wall,

Tracing of wallflower.


It is okay if he never comes back for you.



The first time, he said it was sexy.


Let his fingers cup my ass,

Ignored my mustache stained boxers

Thick and grey – they were supposed to be lace,

Supposed to be soft like inside.


He didn’t even ask whose they were.


It was the first time a boy hadn’t – that was the sexiest thing about him.

He licked his lips at the challenge of having to wonder, for once,

How this girl could gender-bend sexy and still get him hard.


He said it’s crazy but it suits you.


He let me siphon the moan woman

Pulls at the back of his throat.

Only when his roommates asleep could I

Pull his hair; revel in the twists his face makes.

You could tell it hurt and he could tell I loved it.


He hated when I slapped his ass.


It didn’t matter who was watching or how dark the room was.

He said it made him feel weird, gay.

I tried to tell him how sexist it is to not bend back and return the favor.


But this man is blues bruises

Knows love through hard and mouth


He leaves handprints everywhere he touches,

Tears open and listens for the sound

of snapping bones

backs, whichever goes first.

He wants to see what it’ll take to make me

Shudder and drown


He says it don’t feel the same when I keep my hat on.


Work down the shape of him and round my mouth gentle.

He almost forgets his eyes roll back and close, mouth hangs, whispers god.

When eyes open he tells me I have no chill.


I play too much coming in here all like a nigga, tryna fuck him.


It’s weird looking down and seeing me like that.

He can’t do it, fuck someone who looks so much like him,

Fuck someone who fucks him the way he fucks.

He feels taken from his own skin.


The image of what I’m supposed to look like bent over don’t compare to the ways I’ve learned to throw my legs behind my head

I tell him I ain’t swallowing shit and the splatter better miss me.


I’m not the type

To take pleasure in the rough of given

and ask for nothing in return.

-Because that woman is a good fuck

I’m supposed to want him in the guts, supposed to lay open and be taken.


He is a real nigga.

Sex ain’t hetero if his hair hangs lower than mine.

He tries to time out what weeks I’ll have braids.

Most times he ends up pulling them out the first day.

I spend the next morning redoing them before class or hiding the bald spots.


He says he needs something to pull.

I like pulling hard too.





Brittany Spaulding | Two Poems

Scene Description

Skyline. Dark moon. Blue police cameras. The projects. Roaches and rats. Or residents. Block parties. Or loitering. Gang graffiti. Or neighborhood welcome.

Explosive tempers. Or loose bowels. Counting sheep. Or gunshots. Peeling wallpaper. Shattered car windows. Dilapidated schools. Or futures.

Overcrowded subways. Long walks. Open parks. Or crime scenes. Broken tire swings and monkey bars. Step over beggars. Or cracks in the sidewalk. God bless you anyway. Or Fuck you too. Mouthful. Sunflower seeds. Whiskey breath. Pried-open fire hydrants.

The bodies of children floating in the water. Or lily pads on a warm summer morning.



Home Sweet Hell, or It Goes Down in L-Town

The first week of not being homeless anymore,

I slept atop a pallet of sheets on my wooden floor.

My sister brought home food from canceled

Papa John’s orders.

The neighborhood dogs bark

all night and I can never tell

if it’s because of the wind

or gunshots.


Brittany is a Chicago native, a Chihuahua enthusiast, and yo favorite cousin.

Brittany is a Chicago native, a Chihuahua enthusiast, and yo favorite cousin