Naomi Extra is a freelance writer, poet, educator, and doctoral student in American Studies at Rutgers University-
Newark. Naomi taught high school and worked as an adjunct professor for eight years before turning to scholarly
work and creative writing full-time. Both her creative work and scholarship are centered on ways of imagining the
corporeal realities of black women and girls, specifically through the lens of sexual agency and pleasure. Naomi is
a contributing writer to the feminist publication Weird Sister. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in
The Feminist Wire, Day One, Bitch, Racialicious, Apogee Journal, The Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere.
When the Protest is Lonely
(Madison, WI 2011)
Capitol. For the I in consciousness, for when your feet
Are muddied into the ground. This is what democracy
looks like? Tell me. Better, show me how to see Jesse
(Jackson). Imagine. How your legs hang from your
body as others hang from trees. You are a black woman,
dreaded, coiled in other people’s memories. Imagine.
Chanting “Kill the bill!” because union rights
matter. Imagine. Singing “We Shall Overcome” crowded by
lightening switch faces. Jesse! Jesse! Everyone’s turned
on, throbbing in dissent. More chanting. More repetition.
Jesse’s voice pulsating, cracking, and wandering into
your coat sleeve. If only you’d been alive in the 60s.
Wondering where collective imagination got jammed.
Telling the same stories, singing the same songs as if
the present wasn’t worthy. Swaying to a fragmented
past. A lonely present. Memories that evoke screams.
No sympathy. Montgomery. Memphis. Birmingham.
Stories that have been hung out to dry. Asking did we
collective anything before they threatened to take it
away? Shivering in a crowd, wondering if anyone can see
you. Jesse is a mummy. No one cares. Signs that say
things like “If I wanted a drop-out as governor, I would
have voted for Kanye.” Religion has gone to sleep.
When it’s time to battle, drums are pounded to summon
fighting spirits. To keep time, to keep everyone together.
Whose ancestors are we calling, which gods? Which spirits?
Fire fighters march and you cheer. Their chests nod
Upward as you woop and clap and slap them high five.
Hailing civil servants while ghosts of silence whistle an
Octave higher. Fight for your rights. Fight for what’s right.
Burdened decibels charge through holes, spaces
where we don’t talk to each other but into greyness.
We Was Good
When Sandy hit I was sittin’ up in
my apartment comfortable
& shit cuz my moms went shoppin’
the day before. She took us all, like
me and my cousins and my whole family
in the Jeep. We went to the Costco and we
got food for like a month. We had so much food
we gave some away to people in our
building. For real. We didn’t lose
electricity or nothin.’ That shit hit the
rich people in Jersey and Manhattan.
That’s what they get. Nah,
in the projects we was good. We had
My Uncle Frankie, he was stayin’
With us too so we
had a good time.
Imma be barber just like him,
I don’t need to write no cover letter. I wont
ever be asking nobody for a job.
for myself. I aint neva gonna be
no one’s assistant. That aint me.
I’m middle class.
Published in the Paterson Literary Review
My Favorite Things
Seeing how many rocks can fit
up my brother’s nose or what
happens if I swing a stray cat in circles.
If I shut the door of my bright
Lemon drop bedroom I can
hump the sheets wonderfully
before anyone notices I’m gone.
When company is desired,
I scream at the window of
the white girl from next door until
her mother comes out. We pee in a bush
together while discussing whose urine is
yellower. Her vagina looks like rice and I
Want to ask to see it again.
But I never do. If I’m feeling vindictive
I dig a hole and put my brother’s favorite
playing cards in it. I look for them a week
later while dad is looking for his car keys.
I yell about poop in the grocery store.
Big poop, stinky poop, who pooped,
Poopy head and how many poops.
If no one is paying attention I call 911 and hang up
(blame it on my brother).
Eat all the Freihofer’s cookies (blame that on
my brother too).
Color in my Snow White coloring book
And hit anyone who rips out the pages.
Eat peanut butter and Fluff with
the Italian girl down the road
whose house is bigger
than my entire apartment building.
In the middle of the night I
watch Lifetime movies about women in prison
and don’t cover my eyes during the sexy parts.
On the way to school I sing
“Lets Talk About Sex” and get smacked. I tell little
White girls what to do because they
Are the only ones who will listen to me.
Before mom and dad get home from work
I feed the dog peanut butter
smothered in hot sauce.
I try on all of my mother’s brand new
Avon products and apply her red lipstick.
Before bed I eat the toothpaste
Instead of brushing my teeth with it.
I dream that I am Michael Jackson.
Published in Day One