476: Minneapolipstick

476: Minneapolipstick

476: Minneapolipstick

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This week, we're featuring poems related to music. Songs that move and change us. Songs that heal us. What can we discover about ourselves, when we listen to music? A lot, it seems.

by Rachel McKibbens


Santa Ana, California,

3 a.m. in my cousin’s basement,

lights out, television volume spun low.

We are huddled around the screen,

a small congregation of forgotten children,

brown faces illuminated by

a five-foot-two Black man,

decked out in lace, eyeliner, Spandex

and the gutsiest high-heeled boots

big enough to fit only a mannequin.

This Minnesota royalty freaks and splits his body

Throat raw with screeching doves, he pirouettes

with his truest love: a pale pawn shop guitar

we daydream of buying some day

with our lunch money.


1984. What planet is this?

A third-grade heartbreak apostle,

I got a butch haircut my father calls a “Dorothy 

Naw, pops. Watch me pin the girls against the 
handball courts.

Bold. Answering their tongues with my tongue.

My forbidden schoolyard brides. My makeshift 

Once they’re in love, I pull away, bite my lower lip,
wink, then walk away.

I am not yet a king, but I got moxie and I move

like I know I’ll die young.


Boys will be boys, unless they aren't


This is what it sounds like

to praise our heavenly bodies in spite of the hells

that singed us into current form. For the 

you granted in sweat and swagger,

for the mascara’d tears you shed on-screen,

for the juicy curls that hung over your right eye

like dangerous fruit, for the studded

shoulder pad realness and how your

falsetto gospel rang our young,

queer souls awake,

we say amen.

"Minneapolipstick" by Rachel McKibbens. Used by permission of the poet.