“a canine’s guide for how to catcall a black grrl” by Victoria Newton Ford

May 18, 2018

This poem is part of our #BlackLivesMatter special issue, guest-edited by Katrina Otuonye. Read more at our #BlackLivesMatter2018 tag.

a canine’s guide for how to catcall a black grrl

First, sell a centuries old fiction that her body
is an already conquered thing.

               That her kneecaps, her tongue soft
          against her cheek, the wet pit hovering
          between her legs, the grey/white matter
          of her brain, the millions of nerves and
                    the millions of cells

all are strange colonies, all discovered
and ransacked by your mouth on this sidewalk.

Each part of her finally belongs
to you and every other famished wolf dressed

                    as a man as a father as a nephew
                     as another brotha in the street.

Orbit her every day and every night.
Introduce yourself to her hind.

          it must be heavy, baby.
          carrying all that body
          and all those bricks
          back there.

          they don’t make thighs.
          they don’t make lips.
          they don’t make red bone

          like this
          no mo’.

          You are gorgeous.
          So it must be
          heavy, baby.

BEG her to pour into you.

You are every part canine. No more man
than you are tongue.

You pant for the water
she keeps between her legs.

Tell her.

why don’t you smile
why don’t you smile
why don’t you smile at me, baby?

this is how to catcall a black grrl

Smother a waxing moon across her teeth.
Corner her in “a cage of obscene birds”

Then tell her.

why don’t you smile
why don’t you smile
why don’t you smile at me, baby?

this is how to catcall a black grrl

               Force-feed her a new slave name,
                    Make her clean your kitchen,
                    have her raise white children
                         Sterilize her insides

Then tell her.

Bitch, you better smile
when I speak, you can’t
take a compliment you
ugly piece of shit.

This is the beginning of her unbirth.
You are her undeliverance from this world.

If she were anything like the animal
you required her to be

          she’d watch in gratitude
          as you ravish her,
          feeding on her insides
          as they gush
          right through
          her gut.

You want to believe yourself a noble colonizer
Choke her limbs into new names.

               Sojourner. For her mouth.
               Lydia. For her neck.
               Harriet. For both her feet.
               Sartije. For that ass.
               Sally. For her womb.
               Anita. For her whole anatomy.

Her teeth and bone now your instrument.

          Write a symphony from her every
       No please No I am already loved No leave me alone

She has memorized this street and your calls.

Every dreadful thing you’ve said welts her body.

You are an obscenity
that will never leave—

A mute mutilation.
The unedited catastrophe
                         in her mouth,
                         the switchblade
                         she keeps in her
                         pocket is named
                         after you, my brotha.

               all you ever were
               was wicked bone
               and burning flesh.

another motherfucker
fluent only in catcalls

          why don’t you fucking smile for me?

You think she can never hurt you.
          She too weak.
          She too scared.
          She too fast and
          she too broken black—
               nobody gonna believe her story

But damn, look at that body when she walks—

that strange colony you own,

          that lunar piece of flesh,
          those potent hips,
          volcanoes you wish you could plummet in.

You would scald your skin off for this shit.

Go ahead, baby.

Come here and finish what you started.

this is how to catcall a black grrl

Slaughter her like this/a cinema
while everybody’s watching


Victoria Newton FordVictoria Newton Ford is a poet and essayist from the South, currently living in Washington, D.C. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Connotations Press: An Online Artifact, Winter Tangerine, LitHub, Jai-Alai #9, and elsewhere.

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