Jennifer Maritza McCauley

I am a writer, poet, professor, and editor. I received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, CantoMundo and Kimbilio, and awards from Best of the Net, IPPY, Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize Special Mention. I earned my MFA from FIU and my PhD in creative writing from the University of Missouri. I am the author of SCAR ON/SCAR OFF (Stalking Horse Press, 2017) and When Trying to Return Home (Counterpoint, 2023.) I am the fiction editor at Pleaides and an assistant professor of literature and creative writing at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Dark Woman

I inherited this Blackness
It is my treasured bright      blues
I wear it like old veil, I flaunt
It like church fan

I wear it like scattering blessing
My belonging: I carry it      I carry it      I      wield it
I      follow        it

                                      ‘Til the sun stops, watch:

You see it because I show it
I love it, oh I deeply love it
                                                            (You act like I don’t know
                                                            it was once so terribly unloved)
Nothing you can do can bruise nor bludgeon it
My Blackness is never about you.

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Happy Day

What if I spent the day with face blasted
By shine, with sparks alighting the
Long parts of my aging face

What if I spent the day in stride with you
Never wondering if you’d see me, I’d just be
affixed to your God-smeared eyes

What a day that would be
I wouldn’t wonder about scarcity or want
Failure or low feeling

What if the day was, as it is,
Brightly skinless and naked
Drenched in swallowing yellow?

That would be great.
Let’s do it this way.
Here, your fingers can become
My fingers and we’ll walk
Like this, intertwined, perhaps
Skipping like children

Let’s see this out as it should be
Today we will be sopping
With light

----------------------------------------------- // ---------------------------------------------------------

On Vacation

I’m on vacation
so today
I refuse to think about race
And I refuse to think about my shining
almond skin
Or the ramifications of me saying
This as I do or that as I might
On white society

I’m on vacation so fuck it
I’m going to go sailing on a wide boat
And I’m not going to think about
This racist captain
Or the Middle Passage, I’m going to
Enjoy the whip of waves

I’m on vacation
I’m drinking wet-glassed mojitos on the beach
So I’m not going to think about
The Loiza oceans, and the enslaved
Brought to my mother’s island and
I’ll listen to the música Africana
That keeps thrumming on my Mami’s
Shores but it will be
Only sweet sound, normal noise

If you say hey Black girl, oh negra
While I’m strolling on Condado,
I’m going to ignore the hell out of you

Because today, while on vacation
I’m just me, in my new dress,
And my side-stepping walk, I’m chilling.
I’m not thinking strong.

Today I’m begging you
I’m on vacation,
I’ll return to this dance on Monday,

So for now, just let me be.


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