My mother always told me be pretty, baby.
I was taught that the boys like girls with blood
between their teeth, and I spent my youth
chewing tobacco hearts and spitting out the veins.
My mother always told me be funny, baby,
even when you want to die.
So I swallowed the boys with their saltwater mouths
and kept my poetry in.
Mother, I’m good at being funny, didn’t you know?
Even with shattered lungs, I’m can laugh like a pretty girl.
Mother was always saying make them look, make them stare,
be beautiful, baby.
You’re my daughter, this game is in your genes.
Hide the stretch marks and the cellulite,
brown yourself irresistible tan.
We gotta fix your crooked teeth, baby,
those are from your father.
Don’t trust black boys, baby, marry rich, marry white,
let the children and the blood pour out.
Stop writing that damn poetry of yours, baby,
boys don’t like girls with pretty words,
they like girls with pretty legs and thin wrists.
Gotta be brave, baby, gotta die young.
Get rid of your heart, baby,
ladies learn to live without love.