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Blk Girl Art

By Jamila Woods

--after Amiri Baraka

Poems are bullshit unless they are eyeglasses, honey
tea with lemon, hot water bottles on tummies. I want
poems my grandma wants to tell the ladies at church
about. I want orange potato words soaking in the pot
til their skins fall off, words you burn your tongue on,
words on sale two for one, words that keep my feet dry.
I want to hold a poem in my fist in the alley just in case.
I want a poem for dude at the bus stop. Oh you can’t talk
Words to make the body inside my body less invisible.
Words to teach my sister how to brew remedies in her mouth.
Words that grow mama’s hair back. Words to detangle the kitchen.
I won’t write poems unless they are an instruction manual, a bus
card, warm shea butter on elbows, water, a finger massage to the scalp,
a broomstick sometimes used for cleaning and sometimes

    to soar.

Added: Thursday, June 11, 2015  /  From "The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop," (Haymarket Books, 2015). Used with permission.
Jamila Woods
Photo by Reginald Eldridge.

Jamila Woods is a poet, singer, and teaching artist from Chicago, IL. She the Associate Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors and a founding member of YCA’s Teaching Artist Corps. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poetry has been published by Poetry Magazine, MUZZLE, and Third World Press. "Blk Girl Art" appears in the anthology The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket Books, 2015).  Her first chapbook entitled The Truth About Dolls was released in 2012 by New School Poetics Press. Jamila is a member of the Dark Noise Collective of poets & educators of color. She is also the front-woman of soul-duo band M&O, whose music has been featured by Okayplayer, JET, and Ebony Magazine. For more info visit & follow @duhmilo.

Other poems by this author