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Jamila Brown


I like poems

Dense and strange

And written with a Mad Libs effect

I like those browbeating ads

Announced loudly in funny, stilted voices by people

That don’t sound like real people

Just effervescent automatons designed to sell, sell, sell!

My mimicry of them makes my mother

Laugh and bare her teeth and gums

And carefreeness

I like carefree black women

I like to imagine that 

I am one 

All the time.

Like the women who work as salesclerks at empty shopping pavilions

On Mondays

Although I can't help but wonder whether they have

Their less than chipper doppelganger under

Lock and key

Somewhere. I like browsing almost obsolete things 

Like magazines and stamps. I like to look at myself when I rub cocoa butter

On my skin

I like to investigate dreams I’ve had, that is,

Whenever I actually remember the dream come morning

But even when I don’t recall exactly, 

I still always keep the essence and

The tingling remembrance of it

It lingers on my bedside like the feeling of water trapped in your eardrum

Not painful, just dull and warm, and sloshing

It stays there 


And then

It’s gone

I like carefree dreams

I like to imagine

I have them

All the time.

But what happens 

To a dream


A Breakdown

I feel so

Tender and

Sweet and 

Icy and


I bleed so furiously

Painting memories so deep


I’m afraid I’ll bleed out

I’m afraid I won’t


I picture myself as smooth

Smooth smooth smooth

But erupt into daggers of language and mood

I feel so strange to myself, but to you

I am ordinary

And tiring

But I am so powerful. 

God help me, 


Do I feel this way? Like discord is freeing to me.

And briefly wonder if 

Clarity and comfort can coexist, 

Only to want to wipe the slate of my bloody breakdown

In the morning. (Your mercies are new)


 People are afraid I’ll bleed out 

 On the new rug in front

 Of all these children


Blessherlittle heart


I keep the facade for a minute to please

But am beholden to this self-fulfilling fate

I’m afraid I’ll bleed out

I’m afraid I….

But why 

Why why why why whywhywhy


Can’t I just be allowed to be a Black Ophelia?

Jamila Brown is a poet, essayist,  student, and media critic. She is the author of Musings on Mouths, a chapbook that delves into existence, love, and the black female experience.

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