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Naomi Extra

Website
Years: 2012

Biography

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 WireDay OneBitch, Racialicious, Apogee JournalThe Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere.

Poem

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

 

electricity. Everything.

 

My Uncle Frankie, he was stayin’

 

With us too so we

 

had a good time.

 

Imma be barber just like him,

 

paid.

 

I don’t need to write no cover letter. I wont

 

ever be asking nobody for a job.

 

Imma work

 

for myself. I aint neva gonna be

 

no one’s  assistant. That aint me.

 

Shoot,

 

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.