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well, shit.

all those years i done

dedicated to seeing my skin

hexed up under this neon.

each glossy decade gone

to waste, pretty

wigs on a girl too stuck

on ugly

to ever pass.

as all good queens know,

deception is born

from a trick

of the light.

a blonde strand

coddled newborn-soft

on the crown of

my head.

it don’t come off, you know.

the shame beneath

the smoke

i conjure onto

my eyes each

morning. instead,

it stain rouge

on every memory

where my mama planted

her voice.

i slip into minstrel

smooth as the latest season

of Dior.

and don’t i look divine?

this slim & selfish walk

done sissied me

straight to a godless heaven.

my ancestors ain’t got

but one thing to say

to me these days:

“good luck // and don’t

fuck it up”


IMANI DAVIS is a queer Black writer from Brooklyn. Their poetry appears with PBS News Hour's Brief But Spectacular series, The Adroit Journal, Best of the Net, TEDx, and elsewhere. A recipient of fellowships from Mellon Mays and the Stadler Center for Literary Arts, they currently attend the University of Pennsylvania. You can find them at and @imanixdavis.


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