‘Mahogany L. Browne is a poet and author coordinating the Women of the World Poetry Slam at New York’s Pratt Institute. She gives her Brief But Spectacular take on “Black Girl Magic” and the struggles facing African-American women in modern society’.

Burnt Brown Sugar

I wondered if it tastes like brown sugarimages (14) the way you’d kiss my skin hungry You never told me that your lips like plump pockets knives were devised to devour my sanity These were visceral screams of pitiful self-esteem etched and bound into the seams of this epidermis because of the way you looked at it This is for the boy who paralyzed my sense of touch and any loving hands would just feel like his claws again I remember hickies on my breasts hating that you had bitten into my chest in an effort to get to my heart straight through my rib cage playful pokes of lust as you joked you’d choke the life out of me if I told I am tired from over exhausting battle but I remain a soldier forging on to inevitable victory, keep fighting until you get sick of me as fear fucks me alone in the dark            tears stream as he thrusts harder and harder                                I scream but there is no sound                                     now I lay me down to sleep                                                                I pray thee lord my soul to keep I pray, with my face buried in the sorrow filled pillow will he still be there tomorrow? I toss off covers and stumble through my black blanket looking for comfort the storm has blurred their vision and they can’t see that I have cried those raindrops look closely at my cheek, you can trace the salty path everyone’s distracted by the lightening’s wrath as it whips and cracks light across her back she lies on her back                                        cracks her legs and submits to him again and again wondering when the storm will end She reaches out wanting to touch her ancestors feel the drums as they play in the background of sweltering heat as the sunrises off the coast of New Guinea bucking the land and tonguing the plains with fire She reaches out to the water pooled on the ceiling splashes her mouth and thighs inside is a river as deep and wide as the Mississippi She reaches out but can only feel fear sweating next to her Measured my worth by my hipsIMG_94542 so I changed my walk, trying to not exist in a place that reflected a face you were so eager to kiss This is for the boys who need to learn to touch without breaking

Kissing Thighs

I surmise that my thighs have separation anxiety

When I stand they shake hands vigorously

when I walk they rub

with enough electricity to jump start a car battery

The intensity of long distance lovers wrapped in denim

the fabric is in between

so they undo every stitch

every strand is rubbed away clean

until they are reunited

I have gone through more pairs of pants than an NFL team

What should I do

separate them and walk with a gap, no, that would be mean

I’ve got thick milkshake fat bottomed thighs that love to touch

a plight

 that most people don’t hear about much

They’d span oceans, tidal waves

 valleys and caves to be closer

build camp and then start a fire

My curvy hips swish as they share a dry kiss


unaware of my agony

I can’t even wear shorts without them embracing each other

slamming like cogs in a wheel made of rubber

My hips are wide enough to birth mountain diamonds and destroy skinny jeans               


i would have it no other way

because they bend like cheek skin around smiling dimples  

they spread like mozzarella on warm bread

Tongue twisting finger licking mango dippin lollipop thighs

good enough to eat

Indicative of 522 years of finely crafted frames mixed with thousands of my ancestors

queens, peasants, and Zulu warriors

The inspiration for the original coke bottle shape

back when my grandmother rocked the hip-huggers and a sophisticated gait

This one’s for every girl that’s had to jump up and down just to pull your pants up to the waist

with no room to waste

between those

AN312-700x500apple round tire sized make men cry lovable

kissing thighs.

Who Is Not A Stranger Still

Who is not a stranger still

even after making love,

or the even the morning after?

The interlude of sleep again divides

it is clear again where one body

ends and the next begins,

Think to think at each encounter,

we will be strangers still

even after making love

and long conversation,

even after meals and showers


and years of touching.

(excerpt from Nikki Giovanni)