The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation by Cynthia Manick


because sometimes I forget/ soil/ can do more than hold/
wooden or metal boxes/ it pulls on elements/ my shins have
long forgotten/ there are seven/ different words for dirt/ in
French/ we hear/ what is left/ in the woods/ children
with twelve/ fingers or webbed toes/ I used to pray/ for
normal appendages/ I often stopped/ myself from talking
out loud/ singing where others/ could hear/ but we know/
of hushed tales/ somebody’s callin/ my name/ about where
wounds/ use to go/ to the trees/ swinging/ someone’s Black
uncle/ or son/ sometime daughter’s under/ steady stars/ bright
as birth/ day candles/ we can’t blow/ but let’s not talk/ of
dark/ histories/ of how you and I/ are still alive/ like three flowered
maples or perennials/ unculled/ or how standing/ on a hilltop/
just over there/ with headphones/ a seashell of Mo-/ town and
Aretha/ you forget the universe/ is expanding/ as if the gods are/
tired of our sand/ and stone/ bones/ brutal ozone’s/ the oldest tree/
is over 4,000 years old/ but what if/ the bark doesn’t hold/ like it use
to/ the bloom turns shallow/ cause you can die/ from survival you
know/ it’s like working three jobs/ the weight of limbs/ in winter/
so that tree/ has breathed a lot/ of shit/ geographic shadows/ but soul
music/ can be/ a prayer/ and what if/ it could reach/ every spore/
every carbonated leaf/ note/ pollinating dreams like bees/ down
to the root/ until every bark/ vibrates/ under our palms/ and what
if Marvin/ and Aretha/ can make them remember/ what love
sounds like/ and all the wild things/ come so close/ the trees
no longer die/ standing up.

This selection comes from the book, Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation, available from Jamii Publishing.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.

Cynthia Manick is the author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press) and editor of Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation (Jamii Publishing, 2019). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, MacDowell Colony, and Château de la Napoule among others. Winner of the Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry, Manick was awarded Honorable Mention for the 2019 Furious Flower Poetry Prize. She is Founder of the reading series Soul Sister Revue; and her poem “Things I Carry Into the World” was made into a film by Motionpoems, an organization dedicated to video poetry, and has debuted on Tidal for National Poetry Month. A performer at literary festivals, libraries, universities, and most recently the Brooklyn Museum, Manick’s work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day Series, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Alice James Books. Jamii Publishing can be reached via Twitter at

Nilsa Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s also the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. Nilsa’s work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her husband, son, and other multi-species family members.


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