Alexis Pauline Gumbs

pronunciation of her name

found in Toni Morrison’s Sula

each time she said the word me
there was a gathering in her
where all sorts of people dropped in
or read you a dream

there was a gathering in her
like power, like joy, like fear
or reading, a dream
oh jesus make me wonderful

like power, like joy, like fear
but on the other hand
jesus, make me wonder. full?
she knew exactly what she meant.

But on the other hand
all sorts of people dropped in
she knew exactly what she meant
each time she said the word

me

Ask Lani Guinier

A double bop for Clinton after Morrison’s Jazz

where is the black
in that Arkansas grin
in that smooth talking jowl
in that slave fattened chin
in the make up we help him
swab over his sin saying

hit me but don’t quit

ask Hillary ask Lani Guinier
what it takes to buy coons
in election year
at convention time
happy darkies all cheer
one saxophone
kiss on the cheek
does it smear

nobody does me like you do

Bill is a name for a teenage law
that might make it through
a shackle built building
that don’t care at all
and don’t want you to survive

hit me but don’t

and a Bosnian war
and a heated intern
and the march into workfare
what didn’t we learn
from not asking not telling
and Lani straight burned
is it drawling or diction
that still makes us yearn

nobody does me like you

what is it
about a white southern man
that makes slime seem so sweet
and critique seem so bland
that the daughters of slaves
would fall for the scam

hit me
like nobody does

 

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a prayer poet priestess with a PhD in English, African and African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University. Her poetry appears in several anthologies including: Does Your Mama Know?, Leaving Home Becoming Home, Growing Up Girl and Encounters and a number of journals including Make/Shift, Everyday Genius and Turning Wheel. She also has poetry forthcoming in Kweli, Vinyl and Reverie. She is the founder of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind Community School and the Mobile Homecoming Project, an experiential archive project amplifying generations of Black LGBTQ Brilliance.

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