my poem wears a skirt
and tells the truth

the only blush on her
brushed on cinnamon

her name
she shameless

my poem flaunts sequins clutches
dutch wax headscarves

struts in hand-painted clogs
for comfort

fishnet stockings
just because

my poem’ll turn her head when
you whine freda

holds mirrors for court
conch shell for microphone

skinny-dips in chango storms
twerks by moonlight
smears honey on what stings
then swats it

the only yellow on her a gift
from the old worshipped sun

poem makes flat broke
look stately

had to borrow
one of frida’s skirts

gold dusted
seaweed hemmed

solar flared with five
embroidered roses
silk wool blend
dotted with azure beads

one pocket full of
graphite pencils

the other heavy
with citrine and yes

skirt long to cover
stiff legs

running in time
with ella’s gibberish

saturday long to catch
the wind like monarchs

the only stain on her
my own inky thumbprints

and the lipstick
i kissed there myself



a talisman to get
her through

an amulet to arm
her trek

barbancourt rum
sweeten the bath

palma christi
tickle the scalp

drip of jasmine
wake the earlobes

coconut water
cool the neck

ibis feather
stroke both breasts

sap of mapou
grease the elbows

oil of vetiver
honor the spine

belt of hibiscus
wax the hips

peeled kenèp
tone her soft

silver sequins
embellish thighs

pineapple rind
knight the knees

breadfruit flour
bless the shins

drop of saut d’eau
warm the limp

juice of limes
coat new songs

rada raincoat
tent this faith

petwo bellow
shake those thieves

three dark leaves
to boost cold tea

three dark leaves
to breathe into



Author Bio:

Lenelle Moïse is a poet, playwright, song-maker and solo performance artist. Her Haiti Glass (City Lights/Sister Spit) was a winner of the 2015 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award. Her two-act comedy, Merit, won the 2012 Ruby Prize. She also wrote, composed, and co-starred in the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway drama Expatriate. Her other plays include The Many Faces of Nia, Matermorphosis, Cornered in the Dark and K.I.S.S.I.N.G. (commissioned by the Clark University Department of Theatre). Moïse was a 2012-2014 Huntington Theatre Company Playwriting Fellow and the 2010-2012 Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts. Her writing has been featured in several magazines and anthologies, including Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution. She has received awards, residencies and/or commissions from the Gaea Foundation, Southern Rep, Hedgebrook, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Northwestern University, UT Austin, and the Black Women Playwrights’ Group. She has released two recordings: Madivinez and The Expatriate Amplification Project. For more information, visit