June 25, 2018

Nicole Homer


Next to the red and blue heat of the stove, the white
woman’s face is stretched across my ass. Her straight
teeth snug against each handful of me. Her smile,

slightly distorted but still iconic, looks out into the dining room
at herself. There, three more of her, three more
of me: one holds up her bracelets. Sharp flash of ricochet,

another wild thing almost tamed by a woman flaunting
a docility gifted to her. How shiny it is. The bullet
and the bracelets and on the next small body, a tiara.

There is nothing that was not once alive
in the kitchen. I am here because what wouldn’t I kill
to call myself mother? In the other room, their perfect need.

What a beautiful weapon atop that woman. The last body:
a lasso turning above her head. She will make us tell
the truth. I do not like the children

asking me for food. I am tired of the open,
loud mouths of these choices. I want to be an indestructible
white woman, a weaponized smile. How do you fix your mouth

to ask for more? This is how they conquer:
by overwhelming. They swarm the table and chair
and crawl and climb and laugh and spill and

they wait for me to make them breakfast, so I break
egg after egg after egg. How else can you feed your young
without the currency of someone else’s? We are the same

every morning. They say: Mommy I want
you to wear there is an inexhaustible list of heroes
they ask me to imitate. This is how I parent:

in a skin I didn’t choose. But didn’t I
buy them all these white women’s smiles
and heroes? And who has not wanted to wear someone

else’s pelt? In the evenings, I throw the used white women
into a pile in the corner. Some days, I lie to the children
say that I am wearing what they have chosen. When I am not

their mother, I still choose the familiar heroes. I want to be
someone else: a woman whose young is not open-mouthed,
waiting to be rescued. I am so tired. Some days

I just want to dress myself. But I don’t
know what else a woman would wear
if not her children’s want for someone better.

from Rattle #59, Spring 2018


Nicole Homer: “Poetry is supposed to change the way we see things. I can’t look at a spider the same after reading ‘Allowables.’ I can’t think about frozen lakes without a sense of awe and mourning after reading ‘Elk.’ Every thing we do is political. Every thing. Even underwear. I want someone to think about their underwear, and maybe their heroes, differently after reading this poem.” (web)

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July 10, 2016

Nicole Homer


The deadline is becoming a ritual:
I am, I guess, a woman who needs to know
when I should stop writing this poem.
It’s a tool, a trick, and

I am, I guess, a woman who needs to know
the dead line drawn around us;
it’s a tool, a trick, and
a chorus of voices, headlines, hashtags.

The dead line drawn around us:
a convenience store. Beyond that point we are liable to die.
A chorus of voices, of headlines, of hashtags:
I know this song; I sang it last week.

A convenience store? Beyond that point we are liable to die?
This week his name was Alton, but
I know this song; I sang it last week
when his name was “dead,” “black,” and “in police custody.”

This week his name was Alton, but
maybe I’m cheating: maybe I’ve written this before,
when his name was “dead,” “black,” and “in police custody.”
How can an editor even begin to tell

if maybe I’m cheating? Maybe I’ve written this before:
the deadline is becoming a ritual.
How can an editor even begin to tell
when I can stop writing this poem?

Poets Respond
July 10, 2016

[download audio]


Nicole Homer: “The call for submissions for Poets Respond states, in part: ‘The deadline for each week is Friday at midnight …’ The impending deadline that pushes the poet to write is as cyclical as the recorded murders of black people by police. This poem is in response to the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. But it is also in response to every other murder of a black citizen at the hands of police. First, it was #IfIDieInPoliceCustody and now it’s #SayHisName. There will be a new hashtag the next time. The reality is that there is a very real deadline drawn around black bodies and one wrong misstep—or any action perceived as such—means that you have stepped over the deadline and are at risk of being killed. As I sat down to write, I realized that the last several poems I’ve written have been about this subject: the routine violence against black bodies. This keeps repeating and repeating and so it became a pantoum.” (website)

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