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Khadijah McCaskill: “Ballad of Baldwin Hills”

Ballad of Baldwin Hills

 

Born on the freeway
Baptized in the kitchen sink
Cradled in a bottom drawer
Swaddled in beaters

Pierced at the swap meet
Knockoff Jordan booties on my feet
Mineral oil gloss my lips
Parabens perfume my walk
Talc keeps my dry

Permanent perm scars
Toothbrushes expertly stiffened
For amateur mall photographs
Roses growing out of concrete paths

Project royalty
Mardi gras Indian princess
Nappy head won’t grow
The colors don’t match
Chain-linked abandoned patch

Brown grass streetlights
Gold Green necks
Eraser earring backs
Ashy ankles cracked heels tired hands

Church pew naps
Barretta Barrettes clink clack
Wrapped up napkins in metal boxes
Wooly wolves sly foxes
Slang makers code talkers
Street walkers

Born on the freeway
Baptized in the kitchen sink
Cradled in a bottom drawer
Pawn shop church house
Chinese Arab liquor store

Nothing you haven’t heard before

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