What the Mirror Said

listen,
you a wonder.
you a city
of a woman.
you got a geography
of your own.
listen,
somebody need a map
to understand you.
somebody need directions
to move around you.
listen,
woman,
you not a no place
anonymous
girl;
mister with his hands on you
he got his hands on
some
damn
body!

– BY Lucille Clifton

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Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

– Mary Oliver

Stardust

If you came to me with a face I have not seen, with a voice I have never heard, I would still know you. Even if centuries separated us, I would still feel you. Somewhere between the sand and the stardust, through every collapse and creation, there is a pulse that echoes of you and I.

When we leave this world, we give up all our possessions and our memories. Love is the only thing we take with us. It is all we carry from one life to the next.

⁃ Lang Leav

Stronger Lessons

Have you learned lessons only of those who admired
you, and were tender with you, and stood aside
for you?
Have you not learned the great lessons of those who
rejected you, and braced themselves against
you? or who treated you with contempt, or
disputed the passage with you? 

– Walt Whitman

My Song

BY Kofi Anyidoho

Here
on
this
Public
Square
I
Stand

I sell My Song for those with ears to buy
It is to a tree that a bull is tied
You do not bypass the palm’s branches
to tap its wine

The things I have to say

I say them now
I shall stand aside
from those who care
to clear their throat and
dress their shame in lies

When you meet a poorly-dressed neighbour
at a great durbar
you do not spit on the ground
and roll your eyes to the skies

The umbrella I bought
You stole from my rooms at dawn
Now I walk in the early morning rain

You point at me to our young maidens
And they join you in laughter

Think
My People
Think
Think well before you laugh at those who walk in the rain.

The gifts that bestows at birth
Some had some splendid things
What was mine?
I sing. They laugh.
Still I sell My Song
for those with ears to buy

My cloth is torn, I know
But I shall learn to wear it well

My voice is hoarse, I know
But I shall learn to wear it well.

hottentot venus to nicki minaj

It was only an ass then
Only a thing to sit on
A thing between your back and your knees
A thing to keep your legs connected to each other
To help you walk proud, upright

Back when I was just Saartjie
No Venus
Just my mother’s oldest daughter
Poor but dignified
I knew what it meant to raise your head high
To stand and walk tall

They asked me to twerk at midnight too
I was a slave
I had no rights
I was in a country totally unfamiliar
But I still said no

And they didn’t force me
They thought I was magic
Poor, little Saartjie could draw a crowd like no othe
They would line up to see me
Drawn by that magnetic ass
But how powerful is a chained goat?

They wanted to hold it
I said no
I knew there were some things still worth more than bread and water
I would close my eyes to ignore their searching eyes

You can still say no too
You can walk proudly
With all that grandeur
With all that ass
And not place it on a platter for them

You can love your body
Adore its every curve and indentation
And love it alone

Don’t mistake their applause for admiration
They have a sickness too
Those who saw me as other somehow saw themselves too
Their cruel and pulled tight faces were outsiders too
Living outside of what God intended for them
Hoping to find the answer in me

Don’t be fooled my daughter,
One day, you will die too
And they will put you on display like me
Pay homage to that magnificent ass
Make an idol of it
But is that adoration?
Is that true acclaim?

-soo

blessing the boats

Lucille Clifton

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

From Quilting: Poems 1987-1990 by Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 2001 by Lucille Clifton.

Lost

Where does the story of us begin?

Where does it end?

I swear I didn’t mean to scroll through every picture on your page

But I was looking on their page and they tagged a picture of you that reminded me of us

and down the rabbit hole I went

Where does the story of us begin?

Where does it end?

I loathed every picture of us

clicked “right click” “delete” so many times that my index and thumb went numb that last night

My heart was numb that last time

I wanted to erase you,

forget I ever loved you

Forget love

Now I frantically scroll

Through for

Traces that you loved me once

We were this happy, weren’t we?

What was this thing I was looking for outside of your arms?

What was it again?

The words “moved on” do not matter

I have “moved on”

You have “moved on”

We have moved on but what do I do with the piece of your heart I’m left holding?

What did you do with mine?

Every time I see you I’m taken right back to that place

That first place

The party

The introduction

The knowing you weren’t my type but not being able to hide the curiosity anyway

The sense that you could build me or break me with a sigh

Now you hold a woman who strangely looks like you

She is not beautiful

But she has your smile

You both smile in that guarded and disarming way I came to love and abhor

Have you moved on?

At the end, I only thought of the bad times, the trail of disappointments and never enoughs

Tonight I wonder what would have happened if I had turned back around that last night

What would have happened if I hadn’t thrown the bracelet in the trash right in front of your eyes?

What would have happened if that anger, the cruelty, that fear hadn’t…

Where did our story begin?

How will it end?

Does it end because you are now hers?

Even though I think of you sometimes?

What is an end when your face still lives behind my eyelids

When my fingers still find your page, time and time again?

What is an end when the beginning is just a click away?

– SOO

Adore

Mothers love their babies before they know them
Trace the outline of their feet, the tiny hands they will one day hold
Stare with wide eyes at the marvelous being growing inside
Whisper tenderly to their bellies, “I am yours now. You are mine. We belong to one another.”

Mothers love their babies before themselves
Make ready a space for their tiny heads to lie
Go without, so that we never lack
Overcome
Under sleep
Pour themselves out in gallon buckets until there isn’t a part of this dry, parched world that’s hasn’t been quenched by their love

Mothers write our futures in the stars
Shoo our self-doubt
Build fortresses around our ambitions
Will us to keep going, until we’ve reached the land we dreamt of as children
Cheer,
Celebrate,
Encourage,
Let their babies know that they were loved,
well before they were on
anyone’s best of list
That they will always be loved

Mothers love when there is nothing more to say
Teach us that there is no such thing as perfection or too damaged
That the one who broke our heart was not the one at all
That true love is here and is also coming
That once again good fortune will come knocking

and find us home

– soo

Myself

I will always want myself. Always. Darling, I wrote myself a love poem two nights ago. I don’t know where you get this from but I am whole; woman who grows flowers between her teeth. I tend to my garden. I dance myself out of pain. You think women like me crawl for pity? You ever seen the offspring of a lion eat grass? This wanting of myself gets stronger with age. I host myself to myself. I am whole.

– Ijeoma Umebinyuo