When They Say Stop Speaking Ghetto
I am a rebel language,
the wild bloodroot of
I ain’t gonna speak in
your cusses nor cursivos,
it’s ready for a gotdamn
what horrors could
possibly come from
Tonight in this Southern city,
while watching you
dance, I desperately,
want to worship you
like a girl in
pew. I want to tell you:
te quiero, te quiero mi Papi bonito.
Hey, Pretty Papi,
you’re a hot little light, ain’t you,
a flat bed of water-skin. Look at you,
angel kid, you’re a rain-wet
street after squall. Ay,
slick-bodied boy, Ima call you
mi empanada, stuffed to bursting with all
kinds of spicy, secret things.
‘Bet you think I’m talkin’ ‘bout your hip-bones,
yeah, I know the whole world want to
lick them clean and so do I.
But for me, in these frothy times,
I see your eyes before your stomach-ripples,
and those eyes are fearsome as fire;
they got prophet-power.
Kid, I’m saying you’re sabor pulsing, you’re a tree that summer
‘canes can’t shake down. I’m saying you eye a mean day
and grip it fierce, punch it to ash and stone.
I’m saying if I got little shadows gobbling up
my road-bruised shoes, you gonna show me
how to stamp on them ghost-shapes ‘til
whole world thinks I’m dancing.
And ain’t you always dancing, sweet thang?
Oye, tonight, Ima tell you I love you, Papi.
And this little Bori me is thinkin’
let’s shiver and pump ‘til we’re loose-brained,
‘til we’re strong with shaking.
til’ we’re so wicked
any devil would call us wild.
Oye, let’s be mean as God.
Yeah, tonight, listen:
Te quiero, Papi.
Sabes, when you movin’ sexy
on that heartbeat floor,
you showin’ us all the way
to some new kind of
There is a casting call for
a rap video that says only cute
white and Latina girls acceptable,
and I want to show up with my black Boriqua
self speaking Spanish. I’ll take my pal Sumie
who is Armenian and Japanese,
and my girl Q who is German, trans, and Italian
as fuck, and we’ll march on into wherever
we need to go and we’ll be snapping. We’ll be
jigging ‘fore we get thrown out, we’ll
be showing all our skin off.
They should see that:
us cute girls obeying that casting call
on an American
actin’ so good,
lookin’ all kinds of ways
like they won’t
My Black Girl
Girl you so strong, you so straight up strong.
Look at them chipless teeth, at them horsemuscle legs,
look at that fatless face, with no wrinkle nor tear.
Girl, you got them blueberry lips that never
flip down, that hair crinkled like dark mother, hey
queen girl, goddess lady, my girl girl girl
I’m proud to call you My Girl. Talkin’ bout…
Hey, how you get that michelle-mouth, that bey-bounce,
that rosa-ride, that tubman-tough, hey now,
you ain’t like them weak-willed light girls, yeah,
you near man-strong. Hey Man-Girl,
you My Man, My Man, My BlackMangirl, hey, hey!
damnit, girl, you stronger than some man. Ima call you
Not-Man, yeah, you so special you ain’t no man nor girl.
You so highup Ima call you goddess, so holy you
invisible, you just a goddess with no color. Damn it girl,
you so special, you just floatin’ like Lord. Oh, baby, you
so angel nobody knows where you flyin’,
Look at you! Just lookin’ like holy nothing.
Ima call you Nothing, you goddess girl.
Ima call you Nothing, hey, Nothing. So holy
nobody can see you.
Hey Nothing! you so strong bet I could sass you
and you’d say uh-uh or gimme that twitchy neck,
like them black chics in the movies do, ‘cause they
don’t need no man uh-huh. Hey Nothing,
bet I could throw any rock at your blackface,
bet I could stick any thick thing in you, bet you so strong
I could push you ‘round and you wouldn’t feel my hands,
bet you’d just say give it to me baby,
like them booty girls do on BET.
Hey, hey, bet I could make you take any lash and
red would never appear on that black
skin, nah, you wouldn’t wilt for nothing.
Hey Nothing Girl, you thrill me. I know you could
survive anyone, ‘cause you so damn
Hey, my BlackNothingGirl
why you whining for awhile, nah
that’s not what magicblackgirls do.
girl look into this cameraface and dance like you got
fever, gimme them bullet eyes like blackgirls in bad pain
do, camon, camon
angryassblackgirl, bestrongforme be strong
don’t feel nothing, please, so I can
test my strength with your beast will.
be how I like you best.
Not as you are, now, where I found you:
in a little room, dirty, lonely, and
that just ain’t no fun,
Jennifer Maritza McCauley is a writer, teacher and Ph.D. candidate in creative writing at the University of Missouri. She is also an editorial assistant at The Missouri Review, a reviews editor at Fjords Review and an associate editor of Origins Literary Journal. Her most recent work appears or is forthcoming in editions of The Los Angeles Review, Jabberwock Review, Split this Rock's "Poem of the Week," Puerto del Sol, The Feminist Wire, New Delta Review, Rain Taxi, The Boiler, and Literary Orphans, among other outlets.