Maurisa Li-A-Ping

words of affirmation


i see you.
so this how you gone step out hm.
you know you looking like a snack right, like a whole meal.
i see your chicken noodle soup and soda on the side.

you ain’t have to shine like that Black Girl.
got your glow lighting this whole room,
but we knew this,
been hip to the light.
sun and moon all jealous and shit ‘cause you done walked in.

okay, so now you know you just being extra!
slaying all your haters,
melanin poppin, lashes flourishing, waves on swim, curls jumping, brows laid, spirit aligned.
zamnn girl, you ain’t have to kill them like that.
you knew damn well they wasn’t ready, but i see you, i see you Black Girl
looking like a cup sweat tea.

wow! so you just gone keep slaying huh.
copy. cool. say no more, okay.
i see you over there looking like a bag of money,
you just gone keep robbing these banks with this look huh
this soul, this joy, this strength, this smile,
okay Black Girl.

you better fuck it up!
yas bitch, queen, trap gawd, person of the earth, scholar and student, all thee above
you better!
Black Girl Black Girl. Black Girl!
you so bomb, even metaphors fail you.
what is there, to compare a Black Girl to?
Black Girl! i done wrote this poem for you.
so busy slaying the game,
ain’t even look at yourself today.
here Black Girl here Black Girl

i wrote you a mirror.

in this universe, Blk Women are the moon


some folk wonder

what it might be like                     to be the moon

us Blk Women know

what it mean to be the light

shine so bright people be afraid of you

they misplace your pain for anger

Blk Woman sway

slow and steady into the sky

reminding herself of her gentleness


the first person that came to the moon was some white man

them always chasing Blk Women

go outta space for us

some folk come to visit just to say they was on the moon


but don’t nobody ask the moon how its doin’

folk don’t even ask if the moon wanna day off

they figure the moon so strong

it don’t ever get tired of lighting the entire earth

moons don’t cry, where they do that at


moon be like,

aint i

a woman?



some folk, don’t believe me and continue to wonder
what it might be like                     to be the moon
so i repeat the poem again

i know

what it mean to be the light

to shine so bright people be afraid of you

they misplace your pain for anger

i sway left and right

slow and steady, into the sky

reminding myself of my gentleness

the first person that came in me was some white men

them always chasing me

go outta space for me

some folk come to visit just to say they was in me

but don’t nobody ask me how I’m doin’

folk don’t even ask if i wanna a day off

they figure, Blk Women so strong

she don’t ever get tired of lighting the entire world

blk women don’t cry, where they do that at


i be like,

aint i

a woman!

Maurisa Li-A-Ping is a Black Queer poet, and educator raised by a village of Black women in Brooklyn, New York. Maurisa utilizes spoken word poetry as a site for social justice and inclusion to promote student learning and development on college campuses. Her dedication to her craft has led her to receive The Ernst Pawel Award for literary excellence, national and regional honors from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Her performances have allowed her to touch stages at the World Famous Apollo Theater, United Nations, Poetic License Festival, Barclay Center and more. Maurisa is currently continuing her education as a masters student at Indiana University Bloomington and has forthcoming publication in Black Diasporas: Essays on being Black and Bicultural and the Coalition Zine.

Ebony Isis Booth

10 Reasons Why Your Right Eye Is Twitching


The French press of dark roast

in a travel thermos, sweetened

with amaretto liqueur before 10 am.


The letter from the IRS kindly

thanking in order to inform, this

year’s over-payment will be

conveniently applied to

’07, ’08, ’09.


The tax refund you get for

raising your baby sister’s babies

should not pay for the sins of

the woman you thought you were

a decade ago.


This is penance.


Your story is a uniform worn for

strangers. Spring weather is too

warm for cloaks, too bright to

hide your shame.


You can feel the fibroids

tugging your uterus up and

over themselves, settling into the

warmth. But, you have not told a soul

except your accountant, who held you

close and prayed as you wept. She

noticed the tremble in your voice and

hand when she tore the check.

She saw you.


You are surrounded by laundry,

almost constantly.


You are jealous of their freedom. They

are data points pinged from towers

across state lines with no budget for

gas, activities or snacks. They are text

messages of good will, dredged in guilt.

Relieved voice mail messages.

Proof of life in your palm, your phone

a grenade.


You tanked another deadline. You are

afraid that you might be as brilliant as

you pretend. And, who will watch the

children and ignore the laundry while

you are away, breathing your own air?


You are supposed to write, and cry

and drink about all of it today. You are

supposed to know when to say no to

the ice cream man. Explain why there is

no money or necessity for year books

in elementary school. Teach the concept

of never versus forever to children who

are younger than your debt.

Black Girl In Therapy

When you describe how black women / specifically / had their bodies and all cavities inspected / in addition to their hair grabbed / and slathered with lard / to prevent lice on auction blocks to your therapist / and she cries when you tell her that you are a descendant of this fact / but you don’t cry with her / because you can’t cry every time a white woman with kind eyes is hurt for your black life / or when one tries to touch your hair again or silence you / and it’s 2017 and 45 is in office / and you’re trying to raise a care-free black girl with mahogany skin and adamant curls in a school where she is the only one of herself  / and she misses her momma / and everybody wants to know if your pain is real / because they can’t believe you haven’t just up and died yet / and neither can you / and they will tell you it’s your fault for being beautiful / and you can’t make them understand that there is a bloodline of women who look just like you in other states that you don’t talk to / and you miss them all / and you can’t remember why you didn’t get your hair wet that day at the beach when you were seven and wearing your mother’s grief / and you don’t want to.

Ebony Isis Booth is a 2006 National Poetry Slam Champion, and recipient of Westword’s Mastermind Award in Literary Arts for her work as hostess of Café Nuba; Ebony Isis Booth is committed to her work. Since relocating to Albuquerque in early 2015, Isis has continued to fuel her drive toward art-ivism as Programs & Communications Coordinator for Harwood Art Center while simultaneously writing and performing original poetry and prose; heralding social justice, self love, and perseverance in and around New Mexico. In 2016, Ebony celebrated the inaugural edition of Burque Noir, a multimedia performance and art showcase centered around Black artists in New Mexico. Ebony Isis Booth serves on the Board of Directors for YWCA New Mexico as a steward of the organization’s mission, “Eliminating racism. Empowering women.”

Black Venus

Did It Hurt? 

Did it hurt to say I love you?

And when our bodies pressed together

Did you feel friction?

Did I mistake your silence for comfort

while your thoughts knotted themselves into a choker?

Did you gag on your own truth?

And did letting go bring you relief?

Did it stop hurting?

Were you counting down the moments?

Do the moments before that still count?

And when the moments ran out

was that everything you’d hoped for?

Did you find healing in our demise?

Joy in our destruction?

Were you drowning?

Was it that bad?

Has the water finally left your lungs?

Black Venus grew up surrounded by artists and educators. They are a renaissance, finding liberation in balancing different art forms including, but never limited to, poetry, theater, and music. The art of Black Venus centers their experience as a queer black female-bodied individual born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. Aside from creating, Black is an active community organizer. They collaborate with fellow artists on programming that aims to dismantle oppression and promotes healing through creative practices. For more information about the art of Black Venus, future performances and/or community events you can follow them on Twitter/IG @blackv3nus or visit their website For performance and collaboration inquiries email

India Brown

Destiny DeFINEd

she never occupied the same

womb as I, we never hopscotched/skinned knees,

double/dutched/played hide and go seek/

but we have the same blood



the ink scrawled across scraps of paper

at our desks, leaking through dozens

of notebooks. warming the cool side

of our pillows and prayers whispered across

cotton sheets witness to my dirty laundry,

but bearer of what makes                clean;

she is iron sharpening wrinkles.


no passive participants

fights for our sisterhood

decries no new friends

1/3 joking, the rest

she meant it


destined for this.

we have the same Father

our blood types, His.


when it rains

she has our umbrella

otherwise we both run for it.

her tears are a reflection of mine,

her laughter, an echo. We did not grow

up together, but she is my sister by God’s

command. The promise is still

the promise.

India “DeFINEd” Brown is a graduate of The Ohio State University. She made it out of Dayton, Ohio, and then she came back home. In 2014 DeFINEd won the annual African American Heritage Festival Poetry Slam at OSU. She then published her book, “Shhh…” in March 2015, a poetic memoir of the things she was never supposed to say but spoke on anyway. In 2016 she released a chapbook called Questions of Blackness for the Dolezal’s of the world who keep asking ’em with her favorite of 2016 being “Dear Becky with The Good Hair”.

3 Poems By Penda Zenisha Smith

“Heavy, Heavy”

walls throb

house screams, “back dat azz up”,

assume position,

                                         back arched,

hands on knees

A black woman asks the crowd, and who will receive this blessing?


Who gon get this work?

Who ready for, I just laid my edges with my mamma’s wisdom

Who ready for, I carry all the dance in my chest

Who ready for, A white motherfucker tried me today, and I said what’s good?

sometimes the body cannot contain itself,

sometimes the knees give way,

Three black women surround me like the holy trinity,

  1. Bitch you betta
  2. Fuck it up *inserts clap*
  3. Tells me to hold on to her



Which means,

                                black woman I got you if nothing else

Which means, there ain’t no love like a black woman’s love

I hold on to a black woman,

                                           and recall my mother

she stays after my father seeks refuge in another woman,

                        There ain’t no language for that type of holding

Sometimes the body cannot contain itself,

I am throwing that ass back

                                            And recall f(l)ight,

A black woman holds me up,

                    And I recall when my mother told me run

    And she stays cause her skeleton is what keep the roof from caving in,


I am most afraid of the black woman type of love,

My  mother tried to take that type of holding out of my chest to protect me,

I ain’t ever been afraid of fucking an exit sign,

I warn men who enter,

                           Atheists whisper amen into my breasts,


                         Sinning men sing gospel into my navel

I do not know if a man leaves because he is a man,

Or if he becomes man because he leaves.

I do know that I leave before evening come to shift the sun

Because haven’t we all shed skin to be someone’s life jacket,

And the reason why someone else is drowning?

                                A Black woman holds me up

Kinda how my mother holds up a sinning man who got ghosts in his teeth,

This is how I know,

to stay means to give my skeleton to keep a roof from caving in,

I do not know if I am capable of that type of holding yet.




A Womyn’s Spine Must be a Stepping Stool

The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,

He take me for feast and I fall inside of a lion’s den.

All of our lovers fall inside of us,

Which means I sit in the belly of the boy I love.

He does not know that I sit here.

He does not know that there are other women here too.

That the other women have lovers in their bellies too.  

The other women are not really women.

They are blinking lights alternating between black and woman.

Black and woman is a paradox that transcends into a conundrum

They gnaw at each other until something gives way.

I told a man with heavy boots that I give ⅗ of myself to black, and the rest to woman.

I know no other way to exist here.

I march in the streets

And rattle the earth with my feet,

Men tremble as if they never seen a love like this before­­­

I fight for blackness like my arms be staffs that call forth red seas to rise,

And I dare them not to obey,

The seas make way and I march barefoot,  

I Tell the wind move yourself.

I tell the sky move yourself.

When I see carbon copies of dead beings,

I call black death an exhausted cliche.  

I come home and ask for love by its 2nd name.

Ghosts howl back with lisps on my lovers tongue.

He tell me he want a woman with prettier feet.  

Which means he want a woman who has been through war,

Without the scars to show for it.

Which means he want a woman who has survived the war,

With scars that are more convenient.

So I tuck them in a little,

If it means today he holds the parts that have not crumbled into dust,

He kisses me.

A holocaust of dead skin falls out.

I tell the wind move yourself,

And it gives me a coffin instead,

I tell the sky move your self,

And it gives me a coffin instead,  

I sit in the belly of the boy I love,  


My mother taught me that flesh is no match for fire,

I know other wise.

Just because you didn’t see the rope don’t mean there wasn’t a lynching

Just because you didnt see the lynching dont mean there wasn’t a corpse.

Just because you didn’t see the corpse don’t mean it not black and woman.u

I imagine a bed full of burned bodies,

They all use my spine as steps to heaven,

And then call walking on water a miracle.

I know now,

When a man tells you he loves you,

You ask, ”How many women have you broken to get


As an alum of Urban Word who was apart of the NYC team at Brave New Voices 2015, Penda Smith is a First Wave scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a pre-med track who is deeply passionate about the arts. Her poetry, which seeks to challenge institutionalized systemic oppression, was awarded the Penguin Random House: Best of Borough, Gold Key Recipient for Scholastics for Arts and Writing, and Honorable Mention for CCNY Annual Poetry Festival. Asides from poetry, Penda Smith is deeply passionate about coffee, black girl magic, coconut oil, and math.

Miona Grae Short

Yesterday’s Taxidermy

after Joshua Bennett’s Taxonomy

My mouth opens: 5:00 am sits down and waits for tomorrow. The clouds are particularly buxom today. The cold is coming. The cold comes. My mother’s words from a dream. The cold melts. The Laplace equation is a special case of Poisson. No charge. The minute hand is divorced from the hour hand. And they are both running away. Beet juice. Carrot juice. Papa’s cancer. It’s windy. My coat is somewhere on the internet. Legendre polynomials. Boundary conditions. The inside of a Crystal Gem. The lake. The rapist around the corner. Beet juice. Carrot juice. The cleansing. The hiding of sweets. The long fast. The long fast. The anxiety of focus. The Bible. The best friend who sleeps close. Queen Sugar. Insecure. Atlanta. How to Get Away with. Mississippi. Papa’s cancer. The lie of being radically soft. Ferromagnetism. Paramagnetism. The Schroedinger equation says one thing about everything. The influency of my love language. The potential well. The imperfect math. The angular momentum of a breathless afternoon. The rain. The cold. The wind. The walk to the best friend that sleeps so close. The dead phone. The lie of being radically soft. The honey in my tea.


Miona Short is a Chicago native studying astrophysics and Spanish with a poetry emphasis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is usually somewhere thinking about Black holes or writing poetry or exploring plant-based cuisine.

Shameaca Moore


You’re the last block before home.

dry heaving

You’re an unwrapped sweet.

that wished it wasn’t

You’re an apology.

that wished it hadn’t

You’re a wish.

worth watching for

You’re a proverb.

worth listening to

You’re a prayer at bartime.

“Please God

make it come up

everything I put in

let it all come back up”


Meaca Moore is has been writing as survival since 12 and performing since 16. At 17 she journeyed to the University of Wisconsin- Madison for the First Wave, the only urban arts scholarship of its kind. Since then, she’s had the privilege to travel the country sharing her poetry. Meaca also enjoys, including the 2012 Rustbelt regional slam where she placed 1st in individuals. Her focus is around the impoverished, educated, black girl experience, specifically the one she knows most about, her own.

The Table

The Table is a space for Black women to sit with us and examine their world, be praised, be loved, and understood. Wusgood is happy to pull out a chair for these deserving women.

The Softest Parts are Black

Hiwot Adilow

after jay katelansky

I’m a quiet woman. I’m not made to scream about my killing or my made-dead.

I’m not made to scream unless I’m laughing at a joke. I laugh with my whole body

& all my skin. When I weep (because the world ain’t always how I’d have it

& won’t ever have me like I’d like) I pave my throat with ice. I edge my lips

with barb. I speak in secret code & hope the haters keep at bay.

They peep & mechanize & all my armor melts & rusts.

(The things I wore for war were bound to wear.

Imported, extorted, & turned into my name –

I only use these tools to play their game.)

I’m a velvet lady by birth.

I’m a honeydip.

I’m dipped in silk.

I deserve my peace.

I’ve got promises to keep:

I’m not here to spend my garden on the graves my haters made.

I came to give flowers to my friends while we’re alive.

I came to plant trees, for fruit. A jacaranda that spills purple

in the spring. I want to kiss my friends on the face & leave

lipstick on all their chiseled cheeks.

If I could have my wish, I wouldn’t have to watch

my softest parts turn to stone. Wouldn’t need become

a bullet or a knife. Everybody texts me to say, stay alive.

& I don’t want to be a liar. If I could have my wish,

I’d keep my promises. Flowers would always pool around us

& we’d dance in the garden I tilled with my two hands.

Hiwot Adilow’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Winter Tangerine Review, Nepantla, The Offing, and Duende Literary. She has been featured reading her work on CNN, NPR, and Wisconsin Public Television. Hiwot is a Callaloo Fellow and member of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was born and raised in Philly.

2 Poems by Martina “Mick” Powell

Keep my Name / Out Your Mouth  

by which i mean

i have become

an alphabet

and re-muscled

my tongue,

languaged its magic

to make my name


by which i mean

my name so pretty now

you couldn’t pronounce it

and my mouth so flossy flossy

my mouth a jewelry store

by which i mean

don’t touch nothing

by which i mean

i am clean

i washed my body in the ocean

by which i mean

i washed my hair with honey

i am cannibal now

only for how sweet i taste

only for my black sugar body

how i lick it from my fingers

how it makes my mouth

pussy pretty

my own name sparkling

all up in between my teeth


I Might Look Like a Famous Pornstar

the way these white boys

always up in my mouth

like it’s been leeched to them

always up in my chest

like they seen me dark

like they seen me

with my fat thighs thick

and bruised and pressing

these piano key bodies

into a melody of my moaning

for want of pink

and pleasure-lessness

the way these white boys

pass me like a hurricane

want me like a monster

the way my mouth

won’t become a bullet

at Paul’s party

where i am the only

black/fem thing

good enough to eat

and they eat me


Martina “Mick” Powell (she/her) is a queer black fat femme feminist poet who likes revolutionary acts of resistance. She is currently an MFA in Poetry candidate at Southern Connecticut State University. Mick obtained a B.A. in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies and a concentration in Creative Writing from the University of Connecticut and she loves learning about flowers and thinking about magnolia trees. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Feminist Wire, Black Girl Dangerous, the Long River Review, Winter Tangerine, and The Fem. She is one of the Associate Editors of the Emerging Feminisms section at The Feminist Wire.

3 Poems by Taylor Steele

After Sam Sax’s #nationalcomingoutday Facebook Status

In my life, I have identified as: a woman, a high-pitched ringing that seems to come from nowhere, a tomboy, the stone path leading from the anaconda cave to the butterfly maze at the bronx zoo, an empty bottle of the cheapest red wine, queer, nothing, a flag at half mast, the smell of rain before it rains, something black/white/re(a)d all over, the second coming, a burning cross, a god, godless, a bathroom stall’s broken door, the graffiti forced into it, the graffiti loved into it, checking my nails both ways, hot garbage juice, a slut, shattered porcelain doll, unlovable, stuck under the hoof of the elephant in the room, the dark side of the moon and its smallest crater, a witch, a dick, an impulse, a contemporary pop-rock musical that changes the landscape of Broadway, lint clumsily picked off oneself, a boi, a beach with no ocean, someone else’s gag reflex, a hole in anything, happy pills and their refills, the reflection that blinks when you don’t, a burden, the small of a giraffe’s neck, the macabre, an inflatable fuck buddy, an open fire hydrant, the permanent crease where someone i loved once sat, a haunting, a chronic masturbator, a passive bed/bug, an entire boy band, a genre porn enthusiast, melancholy, his last mistake, black in gender and sexuality and damn I’m still here, still here.

In This Horror Film

the Black woman does not die. Instead, she goes to work. All ordinary-like. Worries about the babies, hers
and not. Burns her tongue on coffee rushed down her throat before her 2pm meeting. Watches the clock tick to 5pm. Happily walks the sunset home but avoids shadows, even her own. Sees the dark and runs. Sees the knife and runs. Sees the gun and laughs. Then runs. She ain’t no fool. Ain’t nobody’s makeshift sacrifice. Ain’t a secret lost in the woods. Instead, she is the woods. You get lost in her. You trip on a boulder of uncertainty, twist both your ankles, slice your palm in quarters. She sighs, stretches her bones to full extension, collects your blood in a boring old mug — probably a gift from her alma mater. You scream. She hands you back what is yours. Your blood. Not her body. Or her death. Her death is hers. She hides it in her mouth. This is why the Black woman doesn’t speak in this horror film. She ain’t about to utter her finale into existence. That and y’all don’t listen no way. Y’all see the dark and question. See the knife and question. See the gun and laugh. Then question. Y’all got so much time to stand there, contemplating the who’s and the why’s and the what if’s, like death is a dream you can wake up from, drinking gin and tonic til you’ve swallowed the glass itself, fucking each other out of counterintuitive intuition. And the running don’t come so easy to y’all. So you die. All of you. And the Black woman forgets you all and lives. And lives. And lives

Amateur Porn

I’m horny
and who
will absolve me?
Make a meal
of me?
Pour salt until
every wound
bleeds out
and sutures itself.
Make me
a moaning mess
on your floor.
If you play
with my nipples
I cum faster.
If you ask me
to cum, I will.
He knows this.
He and I
are the only ones.
He and I
are friends now.
Except, I don’t
have friends.
I have secrets.
They keep me
sloppy company.
They spill
from their mouths
hoping to land
in another’s.
And I can’t blame them.
Don’t we all want
to sit in a wet, warm place
far away from home?
Aren’t we all just
hopeful runaways?
Don’t we all
just want to get
fucked right
for a change?
Once, He
recorded me
sucking his dick
on my phone.
He deleted it
after he came.
I asked him
what, then, was
the point?
He said, girls
give better head
when they’re
being archived.
And just like
that, I became
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.

Two poems by Porsha Olayiwola



they aren’t as common as a cotton plant in the antebellum south,

but, you still see them.


every couple mundane suburban street roads, you’d ride,

you were likely to smell the plaque peeling away at the air

more often then you’d see a crack.


that’s what we called them,

in part because of the history

mostly for the infinite sound they made


the noise would crawl from underneath the violet rubble of their mouths

like a maimed corpse fleeing its grave.


their bodies were hunched, like sunflowers, bent for rotting.

their necks held maroon scars noosed round them as branding.

their tongues, brown and discolored, lay limp and ejected from their mouths,

a swollen ringed knot in the center


once white folks had seen the bewitching for themselves,

how the tongue nearly ripped into itself,

how the tension made blood pool in the center of the flesh,

they figured, they wouldn’t say it any mo’.


didn’t want to walk around with a genocide glistening between their lips

didn’t want to find their place indecipherable


the first hexing left a man mangled at a dinner table in front of his daughter

said he kept pointing to the tv yelling, on and on about the                                    .

said he said the word

he wasn’t supposed

to have said

at least a dozen times that breath

until it caught

until it began to swell between his cheeks like a tumor

until his tongue bloomed into a chokehold

and he fell out

and changed colors

and his daughter




and the floor, now a basin brimmed with a copper foam pouring from the slit in his


Tangled, a.k.a

Rapunzel, a.k.a. long-

Hair-don’t-care, and what?


I’m standing in the check out line at the grocery store

Been standing, waiting, patiently

At least, I aint busted.

my hair is laid

and I got these freshies on my feet

So at the minimum, if I’m out here for this long

At least I give the people something kind to look at

My sister say don’t matter if the lights are cut off at the crib,

Or uncle take over your bed and you don’t have a place to sleep

stay dressed to impress

In other words, stay fly

Say you never know who you gon see out here in these streets


And I’m thinking, I might see the whole damn city here

Cause for a reason unknown to me

They only have one register open tonight

I open up my flaming hots to curve my hunger

I’m too ready to get back to the high rise at Cabrini

Anyway, Its my turn, and I start loading my groceries

onto the moving conveyor belt at the counter


I see the cashier, scanning, all frantic and shit

Then he takes the time to look up at me

You know, like I’m a person or whatever

He say wow, I really love your hair, its beautiful

And I think

bout time, cause I knew I was looking like a bag of money

Bout time, someone noticed all this fine

Bout time I get ready to say thank you,


This freckled face red-head says

If you don’t mind me asking.

 Is it yours? Is it weave? Can I touch it?


and then this pumpkin looking mother fucker

is no longer touching  my groceries

but has his crusty pale sored fingers in my hair

and I don’t say anything. which is crazy,


cause I’m known to cut a bitch quick for just looking at me too long in the projects.



              But here, I feel stiff,

like a brick high rise building

or a redwood coffin

like the black dress

they buried my mother in

like my brother


and all I can think about is death

I can feel his fingers in my hair

but I think I’m dead


And I wonder, if I ever belonged to me, any way

I wonder if I am just beautiful thing

meant for the world to make theirs


I think about how I gave myself something kind

to look at in this ugly world

and now he gone go and touch it

and make it his too

I think, I must not belong to me

I’m his, too

he touch the whole world and its his too


I wish I was kin to Medusa right now

                                       That my hair would grow heads

and bite his fingers bloody

And he would jerk back his hand

I wish my hair could morph into knives

Switchblades or machetes

I wish each strand was a rope

so I could hang each of his fingers to death


Levitate his hands from my scalp

Don’t he know my scalp

Is holy ground


My hair

Is black



I think I put a spell on you


White boy                                   I scream


To no one




As I hand him the money


When Black Girls Do Not Feel Worthy Of Being Saved

Sha’condria “iCON” Sibley


When I nailed your picture to the Facebook cross,

and questioned a Black woman’s attempt

to rise from all of the dead things inside her,

Lil Kim,
please forgive me.

Forgive me for being a part of the social media lynch mob

that came for your neck

and your face

when we felt we could no longer recognize you

or your pain.

As if Queen Bees don’t ever feel the sting.

Forgive me for acting like I forgot what it feels like

to not have faith in my own beauty

like it is some phantom god,

to question its existence.

To have everyone tell you

that your unbelief in your own beauty

is no Biggie,

but you know damn well that he was part of the problem.

To feel black and ugly as ever.

However, still wanting to whitewash my skin

I mean, my sins away.

So I cannot blame you for wanting to be born again

for wanting to look like a new creature.

I cannot blame you for wanting to be part Jesus

part Jezebel.

But sometimes the word ‘beautiful’ to a Black girl

sounds a lot like speaking in tongues.

And our Spirits are broken so much each day

that it’s hard for us to open our mouths

to give our own beautiful its due praise.

So Hallelujah, Kim.

I will be the first to testify

that I, too, know what it feels like to wear this brown skin

like a leper.

To come of age in a time when there was no #BlackGirlMagic

to sprinkle on noses too thick,

lips too thick,

hair too thick,

asses too thick,

voices thick, too.

To have everything about you feel heavy

and not light enough,

especially this skin.

Feeling like too much and not enough

at the same damn time.

We forget that we are made of flesh and blood

and not stone.

Yet we’ve learned to carve out our features with contouring

and cosmetic surgery.

Adding to and subtracting from ourselves

trying to combat our negative self-image.

We imagine that these nappy tendrils make for good rope,

but we are taught that no prince wishes to climb it to get to us.

That we are not damsel enough.

Always having to be strong.

Sometimes secretly longing to be saved.

By God or man.

Taught that there’s no difference between the two.

They’re both men who create things they love in their image.


And pure.

And white.

And I am none of those things.

For the Bible tells me so.

I am taught that I am curse.

That Becky With the Good Hair is blessing.

That she is sacrament.

So I sip parts of her body, praying to be whole.



Something worthy of worship.

Kim, I, too, know what it feels like to overdose on communion.

To drown myself in images that look nothing like me

and call it baptism.

To partake of a broken body.

To sometimes be the one doing the breaking.

To shed of my own blood.

To crucify myself daily in bathroom mirrors.

And still rise

every Sun.



Having saved everyone but



Form Poem by Mariam Coker

Mariam Coker is a first generation Nigerian-American Muslim poet hailing from Prince Georges County, Maryland. Currently, she is a junior enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying social work and English – creative writing. After graduating, she hopes to create and run a nonprofit organization that uses art as a vehicle for self care and academic achievement for historically marginalized high school students. Her work has been featured in Winter Tangerine: Hands Up Don’t Shoot series in 2015. She is currently working on a project, Princess Diaspora, where she is exploring her tension between her Nigerian and American cultures, “For Other Muslim Girls Caught With Their Hand Down Their Pants” poem is featured in this work

Panty Droppa

Samantha Adams
the discharge from the
War against myself can only be described
as brown and clotted;
stains on the runway of sanitary napkin
stretching old metallic scents to better heights.
Use ta laugh when
He’d call me caramel
Use ta see it as gift
i feel repeatedly unwrapped
strings of rancid saliva
hang across my body.
An attempt to compliment is
“I’m more of an ass man”
a message from him
to me says: can’t you be more sexual?
Can you program yourself a bit
Closer to Jezebel
Closer to pseudo
to tap into proscribed lascivious temper
my fist kisses in violence
the sandstone-colored shower tile
And in anger, bright red oozed from the
Middle of me. singing:
My darling, my honey
To think of escape, to think in the first place
Requires the flow of blood.
Black, white, twin, woman, reader, writer, frequent crier (soft ass bitch), mobilizer of emotion; sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin- Madison studying English w/ a Creative Writing emphasis. down for a swim in a body of fresh water. born + brought up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. one who believes in the unrelenting beauty of Blackness, the strength in vulnerability, and the power of words to destruct and reconstruct. she thanks for this wonderful opportunity