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For Brown Girls

By Katy Richey

-- after Danez Smith and for Karyn Washington

must be tight
spiral wound
corset of rope
be body and
undertaker be
exposed root
be bitten until
bled be moon-
shine corked
nectar stuck
in the pistil
the treat not
trick or stain
be scale and
weight never
wasteland be
high wire 1st
arabesque not
sunken quartz
terrestrial flora
not deliberate
salvage never
wreckage only
only waveless
but when stone
cannot hold the
flood the flash
the catastrophe
be monsoonal
be surge and silt
the torrent and
the overtaken
burst and bloat
be what drowns
before rising back

Added: Friday, December 18, 2015  /  From "Pluck" (Issue 13, Summer 2015). Used with permission.
Katy Richey

Katy Richey’s work has appeared in Rattle, Cincinnati Review, RHINO, The Offing, and other journals. She received an honorable mention for the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Poetry Award. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops and The Cave Canem Foundation. She is also the recipient of a Fine Arts Work Center Walker Scholarship for Writers of Color and a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. She co-hosts Sunday Kind of Love Reading and Open Mic Series at Busboys and Poets in Washington DC, sponsored by Split This Rock.

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