Poetry Mixtape by Kiki Nicole

for quiet, colored girls

1. A Woman Speaks
By Audre Lorde

 

I have been woman

for a long time

beware my smile

I am treacherous with old magic  

and the noon’s new fury

with all your wide futures  

promised

I am

woman

and not white.

As a young witchy woman of color,  I’m a sucker for anything that mentions the moon. I’m a sucker for any words that have graced Audre Lorde’s mouth. This poem is powerful in it’s femininity, in the idea of an inherent magic that paints women of color as soft and strong, as complex as white women can be seen as. Our natural magic, ancient and illuminating, makes us human.

2. by the time we are seven
by nayyirah waheed

 i will crawl for white beauty.

eat my arms.

barter my legs (make my thighs into altars of grief)

for

skin that does not drink night.

hair that is not angry.

body that is not soil.

i place curses on my flesh

call them diets.

tell my ancestors

they are ugly.

howl at my nose until it bleeds.

run my heart across my teeth, repeatedly.

i am dying

to be beautiful.

but

beautiful.

is something

i will never

be

 nayyirah waheed possesses the talent of brevity which is something that I definitely was not blessed with. The Beauty Myth has been such a damaging effect on me growing up as a Black girl, or as internalized racism/sexism would have it, as an Ugly girl. There is something so bittersweet about the surrender at the end of this piece. It can either be seen as a starting point on the journey to self love or as a white flag to European beauty standards. Or both, which is something I really identify with.

3. Ugly
By Warsan Shire

You are her mother.

Why did you not warn her,

hold her like a rotting boat

and tell her that men will not love her

if she is covered in continents,

if her teeth are small colonies,

if her stomach is an island

if her thighs are borders?

What man wants to lay down

and watch the world burn

in his bedroom?

Your daughter’s face is a small riot,

her hands are a civil war,

a refugee camp behind each ear,

a body littered with ugly things

but God,

doesn’t she wear

the world well.

The imagery Warsan provides in this piece is absolutely amazing and goes back to the idea of an internalized diasporic ugliness, something woc struggle with like stains. Also, just this line, “What man wants to lay down and watch the world burn in his bedroom?”

4. Every Single Night
By Fiona Apple

If what I am is what I am, cause I does what I does
Then brother, get back, cause my breast’s gonna bust open
The rib is the shell and the heart is the yolk and
I just made a meal for us both to choke on
Every single night’s a fight with my brain

I’m including a Fiona Apple song because her wordplay is immaculate and The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do is a line from a genuine Fiona poem. This is a poem inside a poem and also an amazing album. I can’t mention how many times Fiona has sung about my own thoughts, but with much better metaphors and less crying, probably.

5. Lana Del Rey Helps Me Decide What My Pussy Tastes Like

By Megan Falley

 

It is a rite of passage for us girls—to name

our favorite daughters. To taste our cake

and christen it too. To find out what it answers

to when called for in the dark.

And I have to find out what it tastes like, because a man

on the corner of Flatbush Ave and Church

Street asks every time I pass him. 

 

Mentioning Lana Del Rey in a poem may be my favorite literary device and Megan Falley utilizes it flawlessly.  She does not shy away from using the word “pussy” and there are no “lady gardens” or “hoo-has” here! Falley reclaims what some may consider explicit, obscene, or dirty as her own. As special. As powerful. As dangerous. She and Lana encourage you to do the same.

6. To the Man Who Shouted “I Like Pork Fried Rice” at Me on the Street

By Franny Choi

 

what does it

                                   taste like: revenge

squirming alive in your mouth

strangling you quiet

from the inside out.

 Let me reiterate how you can’t have racism without sexism as a woc. When I am street harassed, which can sometimes happen at least once a day, there is never any separation from the two. Unlike Megan Falley’s piece, in which she gets the privilege to decide what her pussy tastes like, Franny Choi has it chosen for her in the most colonialist way. So she rips the words out of the man’s mouth and uses it as venom to fire back at him. “taste like: revenge.”

7. Ode to Jay-Z, Ending in the Rattle of a Fiend’s Teeth
By Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
  

teach us how to hustle so / hard that they / never come for our daughters  / 

 

 everyone I love has had / the hardest time / sleeping.

Everything that unfolds from his hands is so casually poetic. 

And then it hits you.

8. Invisible
By Ariana Brown & Arati Warrier

 This poem is just very autobiographical to me. Here are two brown girls talking about their Quiet when we seem to be only seen for our Loud. Seen and hated.  This teaches me “how to choose myself even when all I am is sad music and anxious bones.”

9. i am trying to tell you
By Jamie J. Mortara

i am trying and this

disappoints me.

Jamie J. Mortara really knows how to coexist with the cosmos. The universe seems to really like them back.  I am trying to affix myself comfortably in this galaxy and it’s hard a lot of the time. “i am trying and this disappoints me.”

10. TWERKING AS A RADICAL ACT OF HEALING
By Danez Smith

honey, you’re here

& that’s it’s own psalm. don’t let nobody look at you

& not know they looking at the risen. this how you write

free all over your bones

 

11. a layin on of hands
By Ntozake Shange

i waz missing somethin
somethin so important
somethin promised
a layin on of hands
fingers near my forehead
strong
cool
movin
makin me whole
sense pure
all the gods comin into me
layin me open to myself
i waz missing somethin
somethin promised
somethin free
a layin on of hands
i know bout/layin on bodies/layin outta man
bringin him alla my fleshy self & some of my pleasure
bein taken full eager wet like i get sometimes
i waz missing somethin
a layin on of hands
not a man
layin on
not my mama/holdin me tight/sayin
i’m laways gonna be her girl
not a layin on of bosom and womb
a layin on of hands
the holiness of myself released
i sat up one nite walkin a boardin house
screamin/cryin/the ghost of another woman
who waz missin what i waz missin
i wanted to jump up outta my bones
& be done wit myself
leave me alone
& go on in the wind
it waz too much
i fell into a numbness
til the only tree i cd see
took me up in her branches
held me in the breeze
made me dawn dew
that chill at daybreak
the sun wrapped me up swingin rose light everywhere
the sky laid over me like a million men
i waz cold/i waz burnin up/a child
& endlessly weavin garments for the moon
wit my tears

i found god in myself

& i loved her/i loved her fiercely

 -Ntozake Shange is one of my black femme witchy writer idols. She is always loving herself under the moon, repairing her wounds with her own magic. Writing poetry with the blessings of a thousand goddesses. This is what self-love looks like. This is where the magic happens.


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