It’s Spelled D-E-N-I-S-E

They want me to write urban,

Because urban people don’t sleep, or sleep peacefully rather.

But I’ve been dreaming Disney far past the avenues and bodegas.

I’ve seen prince charming in a durag and some fitted socks.

His horse is a pittie with a muzzle that he promises don’t bite.

Still, they want me to speak my skin.

And I can’t tell them my favorite writer is Whitman,

without the assumptions of my need for validation.

They want me to decorate those wild oaks with swinging men.

They want my women from Louisiana electric only in their slide.

Not much whitespace left for the colored woman that dreams

In atmospheric pressure far greater than what grounds her feet to Pine Ridge.

If my prose doesn’t end in a funeral, well I’m simply a dreamer.

And who am I to distinguish the two?

A poet from Philly asked me how to spell my name.

And I didn’t know how to answer.

I couldn’t tell that white woman it’s spelled normally,

because I’d admit my own difference.

She wrote urban.

Perhaps urban girls spell it with a C.

Maybe they replace the S with a dollar sign, and the E with a 3.

You know… for style.

But no, not for me.

My mother took too many classes in adult literacy

To name me something an award-winning poet couldn’t spell.

And in saying that I’ve gentrified this whole piece.

But in every dream is a remnant of an illiterate reality.

I’ve seen it live on ice.

A girl that looks just like me, just darker and with less applause.

Dancing to the songs that weren’t made with her in mind.

Still, she kicks an urban leg laced in a bedazzled unitard,

Praying the reception is directed at her dance

And her dance alone.

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