Legendary (2) by Nicole Sealey


I don’t want to end up an old drag queen.

This is no primrose path, a life lived out
of boredom, a role played on occasion.
Category is fem-realness—devout
in the practice of pulling a fast one
on the eye. Octavia, eighth wonder...
I wonder, am I as legendary
as legend lets on? Only amateurs
are moved by monikers on a marquee.
Only amateurs imagine Harlem
leads to Hollywood. I can’t afford such
idle delusions. So close I see them
flickering, but not close enough to touch.
So beautiful I almost forget, were
it not for history, to know better.


*Octavia St. Laurent was a performer featured in Paris Is Burning, a documentary film about drag pageants in 1980s Harlem.



Read TJ Jarrett’s interview with Nicole Sealey in Women in Form



Born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Central Florida, Nicole Sealey is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and the recipient of a 2014 Elizabeth George Foundation Grant. Winner of the 2012 Poetry International Prize and selected for inclusion in Best New Poets 2011, her work has appeared in Callaloo, Harvard Review, Poetry International, Ploughshares, and Third Coast, among other literary online and print journals. Nicole holds an MLA in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. She is the Programs Director at Cave Canem Foundation.