National Poetry Month Day 12: Aurielle Marie





transhistorical for the x in gxrl
            for Nani and Sophia, for Brontë, for Sentura, for Nabi and urrbody with an x

i too/ have wasted
my magic escaping the focus
of white male insecurity/
like a liar i’ve called it
supremacy/ it makes me no more
a fool than it makes them god/
what’s in a name?

i was still born and limp
at my birth/ labored
from this jaw
comes a new sound/  womxn
in lieu of bitch
                          gxrl/ an entendre
untethered from the gut/ of men

as far as births are
concerned/ first there was Phillis
then other griots followed
like a bloodlet/ another one there
climbing through the window
of an ivory tower/ more of them
afterward/ in darker
and darker droves

i am of a riot/ bastard tongue/ born
writhing in the both/and  practically
illegible in multiplicity/ where two or more
are gathered it is my mouth
sneering/ into the margin’s margin
i write hungrily/ a mastication

once/ i read of a writer
named Dove/ and envisioned myself
flying/ then a gxrl like me/ Lovelace
i rename myself a bound book
somewhere/ a library weeps with sudden
pages of shocking Black flesh
a white man told me this literacy
was a failure/ and perhaps it was                        (his.)

i find antithesis to be a powerful origin
                                                                            (see here/ i am not a monster
                                                                            i have no fangs/ have killed no one
                                                                            nor prayed into the mouths of men)
a white woman ain’t me
and so must be her smallest self
which is to say i am/ that i am
you is/ whatever i’ve left to rot

a white woman ain’t me
and so must be her smallest self
which is to say i am/ that i am
you is/ whatever i’ve left to rot

which of us becomes the fable
if the other disappears?

whereas the i can only attest
and x consents to none of it/
each violence assigned
at birth/ the genital matter bloodied into a name
what’s in a name?
i witness/ i is complicit and so allows
x into the soil/ sows possibility and mud

                                                                        i chew
                                                                        i swallow
                                                                        and become
                                                                        gxrl [here!] [here!] [here!]

god ain’t no different than gxrl
marrow of stars alive in our hands
magical/ terrified/ sovereign

our names our own/ finally
iron-soiled/ brimming
with the curse of silt/ what’s in them
conjurers or architects?

gxrl as in/ a whole world
made flesh of our dark/ flesh
we call it rootwork/ this building
each new break
wielding a god body


i like simple violence
censured into fiction
and x the Black
rhetorical/ christ conjuring
                                                                     (does the author consider this art
                                                                                 catastrophe or crucifixion)
not to say i am god/ but to imply
i been left/ to fester in the sun
like a sore for a city

folk gather at my palms to view
they own holes/ wounds to mark
where myths entered/ where disgust made exit
hole in our skulls perhaps imagined/ body
whittled into petit metaphor
cast in bronze/ wrapped in barbed
teeth/  pocket body
barely even a name to hold
the flesh to bone yet/ holy

they pulled me from my almighty mother
and the doctors couldn’t find my face
smacked their palms against my bloody
flesh to see which end

of me made the most noise
followed the cord that tethered
my mother to me and discovered a neck
strangled/ nutrient dense leather

gargled and gargoyled i fought/ for air
and so yes/ my birth was not
unlike a lynching

my mother weeping/
my mother surrounded
by men readying their knives harvest parts of me
if ever i gave up the struggle
hours-long was this fight for life my little heart blistering
into bloom. the story hasn’t changed

what i mean is this/ country
is mine if only because
from my mouth i spit its loam
and unspin a noose/ i won’t exploit my name
the only metaphor i was given
instead/ i hunt/ for x/ for vicious
edges/ and build myself a muse

yes/ i earned this country
i owe it nothing
with my infinite infant hand
i manipulated/ death sentences
into a single compound-complex one

out the umbilical/ i bled/ a life worth writing
down/ and in a century’s time there will be another
word created still for subversion tactics in/ an unaming
the alternative alchemy/ a Black gxrl’s first breath.


Photograph of Aurielle Marie by Natasha Dangond.

Aurielle Marie is a Black, Atlanta-born, Queer poet, essayist, and social strategist. She was selected by Fatimah Asghar as the 2019 winner of the Ploughshares Emerging Writer Award, ]and was the 2019 Lambda Literary Writer-in-Residence. She's received invitations to fellowships from Pink Door, Tin House, The Watering Hole, among others. Aurielle's essays and poems have been featured in The Guardian, TriQuarterly, Adroit Journal, Teen Vogue, and more. Aurielle is the winner of the 2020 Cave Canem poetry prize. Her book, Gumbo Ya Ya, debuts this fall. More from this author →