Portrait of the Artist as a Young
Girl Woman – Age 28
Second round of the Just Poetry Grand Slam. Money on the line. She’s months between lo_ers (replace the blank with an “s” or “v” because both apply–okay, I’m exaggerating a little but that’s how I felt at the time). The boys are taking over. She had intended to keep this one to herself for, like, ever. ‘Cause scorned Black women poems have been done to death. And besides, that just ain’t her steelo. But for, like, ever is apparently tonight:
I’m not the hit and quit,
not the one you get with when you get your shit together kind of chick.
I’m not the balance to the the bull shit that you keep going;
I’m not the spot you come to lay low in.
I’m not the one you call when shit gets deep, while you figure it out,
or when you can’t sleep.
I’m not the one to burn sage for you and rub your back.
I’m not enough but “too much for all that.”
I’m not somedays, late nights, “keep it tight”s or “I’ll get up”s;
in the meantimes, “when I get time”s, or “hey, what’s up?”s.
I’m not the alternative.
And I’m not that bullshit “special friend” title you give.
I’m not incomplete and waiting to be made whole by you.
I’m not just a body–I’ve got a soul too.
I’m the one you take the risk on–
I’m the lucky seven jiggling in your palm.
I’m the got-it-together chick, the balance to your bullshit.
The one who would burn sage and rub your back.
I’m the down-for-whatever.
I’m not just enough–I’m mo’ better.
I’m hot for you;
ready to pull out the stops for you.
Wanna gamble my hand and take a hit for you.
I wanna put down my guard; don’t wanna protect my deck;
wanna believe what you say about how you respect–how you
care for me; how you wouldn’t dare be
one of the horror stories that has turned me into
But you’re this can’t-believe-that-this-sister-might-be-able-to-make-you-believe
to know that you’re not in control.
Is the “umph-umph umph” and the “Man-n-n-n, I don’t know.”
Is not the one of the ones that made your skin tough;
is the Enough.
Is the ride or die
who gets you that kind of high;
who helps you by.
Who wants to do the damn thing,
wants to be the Someday
and at the end of your game board,
wants to be your reward.