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

Yesenia Montilla
Been waiting for a Hamilton Heights Starbucks
for 10 years. Dreaming of Sunday morning papers
& poems while sippin’ my triple venti half sweet
non-fat caramel macchiato to the latest coffee house
appropriate tunes. I wanna be a white girl, no cares
just lounging about with hipster black glasses & a cute
but non threatening boyfriend waiting for me downtown
so we can hit up first Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum
before an indie concert at the pier at dusk in fall.
I want a world where all those things do not spell gentrification.
Where I don’t think about Cornel West being arrested in
Ferguson between my third shot of espresso & my weekly
trip to Whole Foods & for a moment I am sea sick, because
middle passage is still happening, except now we are being
transported in police vans to prisons made just for us.
No one drinks white mochas but still it stays on the menu.
Last night, I had to bring my 80 year old neighbor
my leftovers because these days her foot don’t work
too well & her children have forgotten her name
& cat food is just so damn expensive ever since
the C-Town supermarket got themselves an organic section.
In order to wake up each morning, I can’t think too hard on this world.
Maybe I should really be careful what I
wish for, that Starbucks is coming whether I wish it so
or not. & did I mention, my 80 year old neighbor used to be
a concert pianist. She played at Lincoln Center, her whole
life dedicated to her brown elegant fingers touching white —

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

Yesenia Montilla is an Afro Latina poet & translator, daughter of immigrants & native New Yorker.
Her poetry has appeared in The Wide Shore, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, Academy of
American Poets Poem-a-Day and others. She received her MFA from Drew University
in poetry & poetry in translation and is co-director of CantoMundo. The Pink Box is
her first collection and is published by Willow Books. It was long-listed for the Pen
Open Book Award 2016. She lives in Harlem with her love & writes her best poems
while at work.

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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