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black Girl got

Kelsey Johnson

an incantation


black Girl got/magic in her fingertips/got healing spells in the curve of her hips/got love-songs spilling

out of her lips/

got sonnets shooting out of her eyes/got them life-giving anthems in the dimples of her thighs/(and

operettas that will make you weep)/

got moondust and stardust      and nature and blackholes and galaxies and all things in between/she will

permeate your sleep/your dreams/your everything /


i have oftentimes pondered the definition of what it means to be a black woman and here is what i have concluded. some people say the world was built on our backs (and ive witnessed that)/heard of whole empires rising and falling in the arch of my great-grandmother’s spine-six-or-so-down-line/and looking at my own now-grandmother’s hands/her palms are always praying. and the rivers that run embedded in the grooves of those brown hands  carry no mystery (as some want to think).no. they carry the truth as it was always meant to be told. loudly. with grace & passion. with empathy & soul. with joy & dancing feet.


and in my belly

there is a garden growing


and deep within my soul a voice

rumbles up  saying

                                    burn bright. go fight. 

                                    you have victory on your side.



so i go

and plant 

our crimson flags along the white light of the dawn


sometimes it is blinding

and sometimes I cannot see

but still I smile

fingertips inked with dirt, fists trembling

and keep going

Kelsey Johnson is an actor, writer and teaching artist in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her most recent poetry publications were in The Wabash Review (2018) and A Feminist Thread (2017). Her plays have been featured at Conner Prairie Living History Museum (2018), with an upcoming monologue being featured in the fall of 2020 at Indiana Repertory Theatre.

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