Donna Gary

My mother always got jokes
Only she know how they go

When it’s a secret she grins so wide
I can see my auntie gold tooth
I can see two sisters in one mouth

One sister raises me

into a girl of crown grease thickness.
Every morning her hands braid
my hair into a prayer I wear
I am someone’s daily work

One sister

a phone call
a patient arrow she arches
tense with the kind of love
that pierces no one

I can see my auntie sayin’

You not gone call me mamma
‘Specially not while your mother is still alive
You hear me?

I can see my auntie protecting
two generations of Gary women from

My mother watches me
search for the word to call her
in the wreckage of my birth certificate
find only her first name


I pour my hope into
a Sunday we set to meet and
when the moon rises into Monday
I am still motherless
I am born



Grown folk talkin about me
And what I can’t have
They all know the joke

I can see my anger awake late at night
pressed and simmering,
An ear against the kitchen door

I am wondering what love
Even the broken kind
Will feel like

I want to laugh too

from Issue 30.1

Donna Gary is an African American femme queer poet from Chicago’s Humboldt Park and Chatham hoods. She is currently working on her concentration: Poetics of Embodiment; The Ways Marginalized Folks (Re)Imagine Their Value Through Poetics at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and acquiring a Cross School Disability Studies Minor. She has performed with the Goodman Theatre and NYU Slam! poetry teams on The Metro and The Nuyorican Poets Cafe stages. She has competed in Louder Than A Bomb (2014-15) and CUPSI (2016). When she isn’t performing she is cuddling with a chapbook and video chatting her siblings. Find her published work in the NYU Feminist Arts Journal: The Rational Creature, the queer anthology Dawn With Arms Full of Roses, the May Issue of Gordon Square Review and the first academic journal for queer of color critique Lacunae Volume 1: “My Own Kind.”