I am black and black underneath,
my pink lips painted the most
hollerin’est red. Bowtie so tight my throat
yodels, hat stiff as mean lady lips, teeth
crowded and white as my audience.
Hair and shoes both spit-shined,
shit grin wide, belt buckle makes
a fool of sunshine. I look nice
but these folk who pay me pay
These folks clap for any
thing I say, for they say it’s comedy.
One day it’ll hit ‘em like a punch-
line I’m not a joke. A bit: they give
me top dollar to monologue
their wrongs. But I don’t find it funny
as I look, to paint my face the color
of my face just for show-
goers might listen,
and they still don’t.
Ashanti Anderson (she/her) is a Black Queer poet, screenwriter, and playwright. Her poetry has appeared in POETRY magazine, World Literature Today, Foothill Journal, and elsewhere. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of the 2018 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Poetry Contest. You can learn more about Ashanti’s previous & latest shenanigans at ashanticreates.com.