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Gravity

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After Carrie Mae Weems’s “The Kitchen Table Series”

                                                       I. THE STRAW

Can you throw this away Maybe you should hire more Black staff
Where are you really from You’re not busy are you You look ethnic today
Where’s the African American section Can you turn the music down
Fasterfasterfaster Let me see those eyes Beautiful If you were mine
I’d never let you leave the house It’s like you went straight to Africa
to get this one Is that your hair I mean your real hair Blackass
Your gums are black You Black You stink You need a perm
I don’t mean to be
racist

But
You’re scarred over, I’m the one bleeding
You’re just going to rip apart whatever I say
You’ve said sorry only two times
We tacitly agreed
Then dead me


                                              II. THE CAMEL'S BACK

When you born on somebody else’s river in a cursed boat it’s all
downhill from there. Ha. Just kidding. I’d tell you what I don’t have
time for but I don’t have time. Catch up. Interrogate that. Boss. Halo.
I juke the apocalypse. Fluff my feathers. Diamond my neck. Boom,
like an 808. One in a million. I don’t want no scrubs. You don’t know
my name. Everything I say is a spell. I’m twenty-five. I’m ninety. I’m
ten. I’m a moonless charcoal. A sour lover. Hidden teeth beneath the
velvet. I’m here and your eyes lucky. I’m here and your future lucky.
Ha. God told me to tell you I’m pretty. Ha. My skin Midas-touch the
buildings I walk by. Ha. Every day I’m alive the weather report say:
Gold. I know. I know. I should leave y’all alone, salt earth like to stay
salty. But here go the mirror, egging on my spirit. Why I can’t go back.
Or. The reasons it happened. Name like a carriage of fire. Baby, it’s
real. The white face peeking through the curtain. Mule and God. I’m
blunted off my own stank. I’m Bad. I dig graves when I laugh.
Source: Poetry (April 2015)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Poetry magazine

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Gravity

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  • Angel Nafis is the author of BlackGirl Mansion (Red Beard Press/ New School Poetics, 2012). She earned her BA at Hunter College and is an MFA candidate in poetry at Warren Wilson College. Her work has appeared in The Rattling Wall, The BreakBeat Poets Anthology, MUZZLE Magazine, The Rumpus, Poetry magazine, and elsewhere
    Nafis is a Cave Canem fellow, the recipient of a Millay Colony residency, an Urban Word NYC mentor, and the founder and curator of the Greenlight Bookstore Poetry Salon. In 2011 she represented the LouderArts poetry project at both the Women of the World Poetry Slam and the National Poetry Slam. With poet Morgan Parker, she runs The Other Black Girl Collective, an internationally touring Black Feminist poetry duo. Facilitating writing workshops and reading poems globally, she lives in Brooklyn with artist, writer, and musician Shira Erlichman. In 2016, Nafis was a recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

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