[if your complexion is a mess]

By Harryette Mullen b. 1953 Harryette Mullen
if your complexion is a mess
our elixir spells skin success
you’ll have appeal bewitch be adored
hechizando con crema dermoblanqueadora

what we sell is enlightenment
nothing less than beauty itself
since when can be seen in the dark
what shines hidden in dirt

double dutch darky
take kisses back to Africa
they dipped you in a vat
at the wacky chocolate factory

color we’ve got in spades
melanin gives perpetual shade
though rhythm’s no answer to cancer
pancakes pale and butter can get rancid

“[if your complexion is a mess]” by Harryette Mullen from Recyclopedia. Copyright © 2006 by Harryette Mullen. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press.

Source: Recyclopedia (Graywolf Press, 2006)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Harryette Mullen b. 1953

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, Humor & Satire

 Harryette  Mullen

Biography

Harryette Mullen is a poet and a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she teaches creative writing and African-American literature. Her poetry has been hailed by critics as unique, powerful, and challenging. Elisabeth A. Frost wrote in Contemporary Literature: "Crossing the lines between often isolated aesthetic camps, Harryette Mullen has pioneered her own form of bluesy, disjunctive lyric . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, Humor & Satire

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.