Poems by Nicole Shanté White

The Cottage

when my roommate is away, our apartment is a cottage
somewhere on the west coast with floors whose creeks
musically accompany the roof’s steady leak after a noon rain.

I practice cooking for one, rinse vegetables I’ve watched
flourish in the garden of our living room, and tend to cannabis
in the nude. the moan of the air conditioner is absolutely
a breeze from the Pacific. I kiss the rim of the bottle of red
wine until everything I stumble into is a loud, dirty word.

she calls, and I am too busy swallowing my day to spit
it back out. I wish the window into a porch with a lemonade
hammock, weave waves out of tears I’ve stored under my
mattress – rather, tears that cower amidst the fibers and
springs on nights I fantasize ending breathless/ lodged
between the fold of my favorite pillow.

rent is a dead thing. our curtains are still curtains, only now
they hang in my cottage/ where the memory of her voice
vanishes with the smoke – and should today be the day
I suspend my neck like the chandelier, there will be no
one’s arrival to ruin. the leaning bookshelf won’t gasp
and the condoning chair can’t call the ambulance.

I will be a selfish sun/ setting before everyone has finished
tanning. But what matters is that she won’t be responsible
for arranging reasons when my mother demands them/
won’t be the easy target/ blamed for overlooking my fading/
won’t be the closest/the one who slept under the same
shingles and didn’t notice the foreshadowing luster in my smile.

Here, I don’t spray remnants of joy before an anticipated
knock/ I don’t dig for language to conceal my decaying.
My sorrow spills all over the cottage’s carpet and there
are no keys wrestling at the door to prompt the hum
of the vacuum

Not Her


you don’t get to kiss me twice,
then call me desert – your ready is not mine.

my nipples need to be your last two pieces of candy,
my silhouette/ palmed and gently finger nailed.

you’re probably not used to this work.
your last needed only a glance
from you to be a Nile of a woman.

no need to remind me that my body is not-hers,
I tasted her navel in your mouth.


I am moan/ all moan             to amuse you. Your pelvis                  strums like the guitar you
play and I am a string.             Hoping that maybe, if I                     make you musesick, you
will find value in my         not-her. Maybe, your ego                    will think it has composed a chord
worth                 repeating. The bottom                      of my feet stare at the ceiling, your
palms               around my ankles,                              you pluck all and none of you between
my                   divorced knees, always                       done before my back has enough time
to fret               the bed. I wonder                               if this is on purpose.
I know this is              on purpose. Your hips                        fine-tune and I am never
her song.


"Missouri teen shot by police was two days away from starting college" CNN on Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18 year old

how will you collect my things? when mybeing isn’t enough, and myblack is a tired
clichéwhere will you position my matter?

will it live in myyouth /mycisgender/ myscholarship? when mybreath isn’t
enough to make mydeath a national tragedy –  how will you collect my things? 

when myqueer doesn’t fall in line/ when mypothead and pottymouth don’t assist the mission – which becomes more important: telling the truth, or making mymatter
matter? what is a black body if not a quilt of war soil? what is a diploma if only an excuse to bury the soil of this war into a hashtag?

what will you write on the posters? which narrative will you lend the news?
when myvaluable is not innate, and this skin is a fatal heirloom – who do my things belong to?

won’t you boast of my potential to change the world, and omit that I could’ve also altered nothing? will you displace myfeminism/ call my poems riots/ make me your fallen leader?

which picture will you use to present mynormal/ myjustlikeyou? will my mother need to comb through photo albums to find tamed naps/ a smile that doesn’t know it is
an apology/ and an erect spine they mistook for target practice?

after I am ghost/ and chalk outlines/ and competent/ and innocuous, then can I be a breath/ can I be a washere? can I be a life deserved? then, can myblood be reason/ mybones be matter/ and I enough?

Nicole Shantè White is a silent cacophony. The quiet one yo mama warned you about. She is a cluster of Midwest accents and Southern hospitality. Her work encompasses her experiences as an educated queer woman of color. She is a recent graduate of Georgia State University with a BA in Poetry and minor in Women's Studies.

Weblink: http://www.nicoleshantewhite.org/