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Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work recently has been featured in Storyscape Journal, Dusie, Fanzine, The Enemy, The Brooklyn Rail & others. She is the author of the chapbook I Would Be the Happiest Bird (Horseless Press) and her first full-length book of poems, Houses, also from Horseless Press in 2015. Her graphic chapbook I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel is forthcoming from Bloof books.
Michaela Murry, also known by her pen name as “Mikey C. Apollo”, knew she wanted to be a writer by the time she was in the second grade. Inspired by the work of Barbara Park, many of her initial short stories began as remakes of Park’s character “Junie B. Jones”. While attending Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Murry no longer wanted to write stories, but found her voice through spoken word poetry. With the help of Still Waters Collective’s founder and mentor, Dasha Kelly, she soon discovered her passion for education and social justice. Now, she is currently pursuing her degree in Community Engagement Education at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
It occurred to me when you were on the phone
with one of your foodie friends that restaurants
should disappear. They should be replaced with
community spaces that have food. That these big
spaces should have their own gardens and green
houses to provide this food. That foodies shouldn’t
exist. That restaurants should disappear. That the
problem is the rich refuse to cook for themselves
but do make documentaries about farm to table bistros.
That chefs are selective about the people they want
to feed. That the least expensive food intended for
the poor is the most expensive. That you wallow in
excessive luxury . That you are not actually a swine
because pigs like mud, and a pig doesn’t need a dress
from Tom Ford, and that you eat the pig at brunch
anyway having no love for the mud that gave you
the pig. That I’m eating frozen food right now and
places like Rodeo Drive exist. That we’re supposed
to think of what you do as art and not speculation.
That maybe Los Angeles will be the first to fall and
not New York. That both of these cities are higher
than they can stand. That I need to take a long nap
because eating bad food is exhausting. That I’ve only
been to Olive Garden once in my life. That I almost
had a panic attack in Trader Joe’s yesterday when I
touched a family of plastic wrapped pre-cut stir fry
vegetables. That I’ve been refused service at diners
in northern Wisconsin so I’m supposed to be grateful
that you’re liberal enough to serve me in a restaurant.
That I’m supposed to feel grateful you act grateful
while serving me a great malbec paired with moldy
cheese. That you can tell a lot about a person by how
they treat the waiter in a restaurant. That I want to
make a scene when he’s rude to the waiter but he’s
feeding me so I’m supposed to be grateful. That no
matter how big you tip the waiter you’re still an ass.
That they think having money gives them the right to
demand more restaurants. That restaurants should
disappear. That I’m nervous now about writing the
line about Los Angeles and New York disappearing
because white supremacy has a way of making folks
disappear. That Disney princesses are truly awful and
there’s nothing redeemable about them and yet we
know every single one of their names but not the fact
that since 1980 California has built 22 prisons and only
one university. That Michelle Alexander is the first writer
who told me this and I was 30 years old. That adding
a black cartoon princess is considered progress. That
I went to Disneyland the first time I visited Los Angeles
because my in-laws had a time share in Palm Desert and
they have a grandson who watches movies and television
every day. That I sometimes play Sim City for hours building
simulated cities like Los Angeles where almost all the zones
are high wealth until I hit disaster mode and the low wealths
riot and start fires in the areas cultivated for the high wealths.
That the riots in real life only last for a few days at the most,
and people fight over who took the best quintessential pic
with their phone. That the megastar couple secretly bailed
out the protesters and then probably went to get dinner
somewhere in a restaurant that night or the next night and
were served very exclusive food because they know rich
chefs personally. That the exclusive food was grown first on
a farm and the exclusive food was probably flown in that
morning, that day, 15 minutes before the megastar couple
ordered their exclusive food, that the food becomes even
more exclusive because they are eating it and it is arranged
in a certain artistic pattern on a white ceramic plate by chefs.
That everything about this megastar couple is strategy to reinforce
exclusivity including images they sell of themselves .That images
they sell of themselves encourage their exclusivity is what the non-
exclusive should be striving for. That when I see the images of the
of the megastar couple all I feel is hate, anger, envy, and betrayal.
That I promised myself I wouldn’t write poems about this megastar
couple that everyone loves but here I am, at six in the morning, writing
about restaurants and rich people. That I just ate a bowl of cereal and
it was a very expensive bowl of cereal since many people were involved
in making this bowl of cereal. That I don’t grow my own food and growing
food has become exclusive. That I will eat more food today and tomorrow,
that the rich will keep eating, the megastar couple will accumulate more
wealth and exclusivity and that the restaurants will not disappear, Los Angeles
will become more and more like Los Angeles, more and more people will sell
images of themselves, and the chefs will be selective about who deserves to
eat food that was first grown on the farms outside the cities. I will grow herbs
and tomatoes in my yard in the city and feel momentarily pleased with myself.
The Black Girl’s Confessional
For my Mother in Poetry,
the original “Little Big Womyn”
Rest in Peace, Queen
The black girl’s confessional does not take place in a church built by man nor God.
The black girl’s confessional does not require any penance,
does not come from a place of shame,
does not ask for you to kneel
unless it is what you wish.
The black girl’s confessional is grounded.
It occurs when the purple flowers have wilted,
and all you have left is your black
and your woman
and your hair that God finds himself getting lost in.
Before Nakila died, she taught me
how to orchestrate my life being
both black and girl, yet left before helping me
unravel all this mess I call
This house I have built was set to burn from the beginning,
was created to fall like Jenga.
It was written, therefore,
it is supposed to tear in two like red curtains.
The black girl’s confessional is a place I have yet see.
It is both the water that Jesus walked on
and the sea that swallowed Peter in all of his doubt.
It is a place in which we ask questions
and do not get answers.
There are no priests here.
There are no mamas, no men, no manuals, no locks.
There is only your flesh and your dirt
and a crown of thorns made perfectly to fit
over your crown of curls and locs.
And when I get there,
I will admit of all things I have done
to strip myself naked and pale.
I have forgotten my ancestry.
Abandoned it in kindergarten classrooms
where the white boys seduced me
with their privilege and blue-eyed magic.
Refused to call it by name when I had lost my own.
Neglected it when I was convinced
I could never be beautiful because
I have skin the color of dirt,
the shade of Eve,
the pigment of my savior.
The black girl’s confessional is where I imagine I’d find HER.
She will drown me in kisses and hugs that are
all breasts and backbone.
The black girl’s confessional offers truth and tea.
We break bread and bones and binaries and boys
who tried to unmake us
before we made us.
I imagine the black girl’s confessional feels like home.
I imagine it sounds like laughter.
it smells like purple flowers.
I bet it looks a lot like me.
—Mikey Cody Apollo