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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