The Black Woman's Latitude Final Zine

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N I A N I ' S



Niani Pogue

A K I L A H ' S


Akilah Morrison

J O C E L Y N ' S


Jocelyn Bateman

A A R E L ' S


Aarel Calhoun

A M A ' S

Ama Akoto


This organization has been like a lifeline constantly pulling me forward and further into my writing community. Since its beginning, I’ve met so many writers that have introduced me to new thoughts, sharpened my reading skills, and taught me the importance of community building. So, while this is my final letter and the end of The Black Woman’s Latitude, the impact of BWL will last a lifetime in my heart. The following pieces were chosen with the intention of leaving a lasting impression. Each of the pieces offers solitude, love, vulnerability, and sacrifice. The authors have poured themselves onto the page and left nothing unsaid.

So, when you read this volume, read it not in sadness but with pride, because just like the writers printed in these pages, The Black Woman’s Latitude has left nothing unsaid. We have served all 438 of our members and it has been an honor and a joy. We wish you a continued and fearless pursuit of writing! -Christiana McClain

Lethal Lilacs Lethal Lilacs Purple reminds you of amethyst rings glistening on your skin. The Arabian sea reflects lilac skies, lavender candles that cure your sorrows, and the driest of wine Puts you to sleep. While you adore violets; you are creating plum bruises that can’t fade. Because you love purple so much that you decided it should stay. -Niani P.

Homesick I yearn for a house to feel like a home. With company that often returns, knowing they desire me, as much as I want to belong. I want someone to pour me a cup of chamomile tea; I wish for laughter to replace the white noise. Not feel pain and Finally rejoice. But, for right now there are only walls without pictures, dishes left untouched. Windows with little prints wanting more than just this. -Niani P.

Honey Topaz I want to be seen as topaz. I want to be the shimmer in the folds. I want to be the sun; The brightest evening star. I want to be the golden rain Showers you see in April. The honey crisp apples You take a bite of. The rain boots you need to shield yourself from puddles, The fruit that is the sweetest. The ambers that heals you, Because all that is gold, gleams. I want to be the glitter and the gold. I want to be the pearls you never want to give away. I want to be your hidden treasure That glints in the softest planets of your essence.

I want you to hold your hand in prayer; Manifest, Warming me, Crystallizing the spirit of your own. Once you release, There is topaz. -Niani P.

Change is Good Every morning, I open my window to hear the fountains in the pool. I sometimes watch The flow of the water, how it resembles sapphire satin fabric. On days that I cry, I go to the nearest body of water, to be one with it. I have learned, We never step in The same river twice. It’s always new, Even if the name never changes.

Or if we go to the same field, Pick the same flower, From the same exact spot. But they aren’t the same Even if the pattern shows it. Or how every day we wake up knowing tomorrow is never promised. We trust the shadows all the same. Someday, the shadows will consume us and we will never be us, people will still chant our name. Even if they spread us through creeks or plant us with botanicals, we are still who we say we are even if we aren’t the same. -Niani P.

Pomegranates You hold pomegranates in your palms. Juice drips down the satiny skin of your chin, leaving for me a trail to climb back on The sun rises and sets on the tongue of this heat I stretch across this space Assume it to be my own Cover it with all of me. This juice tints the skin of your fingers Living comfortably next to the flesh underneath your fingernails I've never known a mouth to move so fervently Of its own volition and exactly on time

I earthquake here Ride the waves that only your hands can create This song you sing calls me to Christ I sigh Lean back into this heaven This hot and this heat Flesh, fingers, and bodies Tongues that dart back and forth to the pit-pat of rain in April and I cry Every piece of me joins together and wails Vibrating from the inside out You have sang to me a song that I could never forget You wipe your mouth On the back of your hand Is this love ?

isntthatodd God spreads the width of her hips across the span of the sky And I watch her back bow She rubs her ankles and wrings her hands in tired this space is full of her to the brim tothebrim black woman in this sky, looking down on all of us and devouring all that space? isn’t that odd hmm isntthatodd but she lets her hair down Orchestrates the silent symphony of stars in the night sky And her arms hold the sky and all of its pieces in place She is king here Sheiskinghere hmm isntthatodd

Untitled I carry you Across my shoulders And the length of my back My memories taste like you and I love it Revel in the warmth that flutters against the softness of my eyelids when I drift into the dream that is you My REM and my restitution And my heart glows like fireflies in July You’ve made my world ultra HD Milk and honey love songs rest in the undertones of my laughs You’ve made me see in colors that I can’t even name And as my time as the love in your life becomes but a fertile memory I bathe in the exhilaration I’ve found

My girl I pull up to the front of your house Put my car in park And watch your livingroom light disappear into the darkness You jaunt down the stairs Your hair long, your curls graze the curves of your cheekbones and gently frame your face You were my best friend I smiled into your eyes as you slid into the passenger seat of my 2001 mitsubushi galant I can still hear your heart, even from here Can still remember the smell of your perfume Sweet and light, resting gently in the air As we set off into the sunset, I prayed for a million more of these moments I close my eyes for just a second Asking God for this to be a permanent piece of my forever It’s as though the darkness has now swallowed me I jolt forward in my seat The audacity of these streets shake me from the memory of the us that I love so much My best friend even still The curry goat to my plantain There are still parts of me that fail to be in your absence

My soulmate I cry for you in silence My lips do not part Nor do my eyes rush But when i look into the mirror i see parts of me that will never look the same without you

An Ode to Self I want to fall head first into a love so badly And I know that this desire will be the end of me End me But there is no beginning in its absence So instead of a warm bed I’ve learned to love myself as a cresent moon, A full bellied beauty, Or the dim light of a june bug A few feet in the distance My breast an oasis A sanctuary A home of peace and the beauty of just being

Dreamin’ I imagine your hands in mine And your hips to my lips The world of my imagination cascades Down Over me The wind is still & this is Exactly how i want to die Where i want to drown In the fantasy of your hands Swimming in the honey brown dew of your eyes I fall into the heaven of this day dream You dance across the back of my mind Make your ways to my face & Pull the ends of my lips into a smile I love you

That Heat. That heat! That tingling heat that sears my eyes when the tears get too heavy to hold but have not yet fallen. That heat! That suffocating heat. Its genesis my head, striking ever so suddenly down to the soles of my feet. My heart races, grows tighter with each beat. That heat! That icy heat that stirs from your lips as your words pierce my very being. Each syllable slithers sharply from your tongue. You know what you’re saying, and you don’t care. That heat! That heavy heat…you know the kind. That heat that pins you down, hikes you up. That heat that melts your skin with sweet kisses in the places you love most. That heat! That resurgent heat. This one won’t die. It likes the way the hurt sets in and the anger begins. And in this heat, it’s too hot to stop.

I Was Too Much I don’t want to feel Anything I don’t want to feel for you Or for me Because I have a tendency to overwhelm. Everything is colossal There are no small occurrences in my eyes. You and I and everyone else are important, What they say what they do what they see What they think– it’s all huge. And so I can’t feel it. I close the shutters and lock the doors And sit in the shower and block you all out. It all out. I refuse to feel it. I won’t. I can’t. Because if I do I’ll go all in and maybe you won’t understand. And neither will anyone else. And that will make it worse. Because when the windows are open, and the doors are unlocked, people can come in. And I like people, I love company, I’ll let them in And we’ll have fun And we’ll laugh, we’ll play tag in the house even though we shouldn’t. We’ll blow bubbles and play hide and seek. We’ll imagine a future in which we’re always friends, Like we’re 8 years old and haven’t experienced the slow and painful death of a friendship ending– But the time will come. You’ll have to go, something came up, life got busy. And you forgot me.

You forgot all of the things we did together and the laughter we shared. So you’ll go away. And the doors. The windows. I’ll leave them open for you in case you come back Because I naively didn’t think you’d ever go away. So I’ll invite you back. So many times. Too many times. I’ll reach out, distance doesn’t have to mean loss. We can still laugh on the phone Maybe we can’t run together anymore but we can make it work. We can. We. But you’re an I now. We’re not we. And maybe you always were an I and maybe I was too intense. I didn’t get it. I pushed those heavy windows open I begrudgingly unlocked my doors Because I was hoping a good person would come and they would stay. But you went away. They went away. And you didn’t try to return. You liked the new normal and I didn’t. I tried to keep the old normal but you didn’t. And so I lock the doors again. I close the windows. And I’m alone. I’m living one of my worst nightmares in which I’ve been abandoned and I’m not sure why. But you’re happy And I’m happy that you’re happy but Why did things have to change? Why can’t they be the same forever? Maybe I’m being too dramatic But this is why my house can get unbearably hot and dark and lonely.

This is why the air is thick and heavy within my house. Because I can’t open the window, I won’t open the door. If I don’t keep myself in and keep you out I’ll feel it. I’ll feel this, over and over and over again And the locks on the doors are incredibly difficult to unfasten The windows take all of my strength to push open So it meant something when I let you in my house Or at least I thought it did

Part 2 I guess I never noticed that your house was different You had revolving doors And maybe that’s the key all along Revolving doors. They don’t keep a person in or out Revolving doors are a type of freedom And I like this type of freedom, don’t get me wrong But how do you get people to stay? –A.C.

A Night Spent With A Political Man I lay down with him in a bed of smoke Lipstick stains on the rims of his glasses From where he brushed up against my mouth And let words of power spill from his He’s a smooth man Swaggy and knowin’ of it He never really left the streets Just found himself a bigger purpose in them I let him settle in it, fit himself comfortable in his britches While he tells me about all his dreams for the block And I listen Sweetly, smiling Pursing my lips and waiting As this man bigger than men Sets his dreams but only so far I find it most interesting / the limitations of his radicalness Somehow we The people for whom he so adamantly dreams of freedom Are still to blame Still to fault Still to fix what was not ours to inherit in the first place I don’t stop him, though I enjoy the light in his eyes The weight of him pressed against me The sensation of his words reverberating through my bones I pick up on pieces of his plans that need more More

More than any cishet man can ever give I let him rest his head on my bosom, Almost comfortable in this space we’ve created Where ideas foster, dreams are imagined Futures brilliantly displayed on bodies in motion Laughter And tears In succinct sayings / “The ballot or the bullet� Manly manifestos, iterations of fighters past Reborn before my eyes Elusive And yet Oh, so alluring I struggle not to fall between the cracks of his charisma The leader we want, but do not need I pick up on pieces of his plans That forget me Us The invisible chains created such that willpower alone is not enough to break them What dollar will I spend here, if I have none? What community will I stay in if its water is leaden, its streets unpaved, schools underfunded Homes destroyed and rebuilt with no space for us? We are ancestors before we transition Experiencing life and death at once In this moment and all others To find joy is to fight But not for him

We cannot sit We do not rest Music is trivial And liberation will be a land of stoicism and anger Frustrations with nowhere to travel So we might reach for freedom and be half dead at the summit I lay down with him in a bed of smoke Listening to his dreams Almost comfortable As a fire only I seem to see Rages around us

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