the louderARTS Project

Coriel Gaffney

Coriel O'Shea Gaffney

Coriel O'Shea Gaffney is a Brooklyn resident originally from New Haven. She is a poet, youth arts mentor, and public health program coordinator. She co-founded and co-leads the not-for-profit organization 500Genders, a feminist writing, performance, and educational collaborative (www.500genders.blogspot.com). She has performed at Spoken Word Cafe (RIP), Bar 13, the Nuyorican, the Bowery Poetry Club, on street corners and subway cars. She is the author of the chapbook Mouse Pancakes. Her hobbies include: dancing, analyzing, bike-riding, and eating mangoes and bacon and other things.



NOT THE SOAP, THE DRUMS, NOT THE WOVEN RUGS

for Gerald, the former tenant

The super kept your bible but
not the soap, the drums, not the woven rugs those he discarded
in haste there's a new secret church Gerald grey and flat
as Brooklyn sky music leaks out like cooking smells and gives
it away i’d rather kneel
on the fire escape and listen
to the gospel of unfailing routine the interest
is still rising on your student loans i dreamt you
hid your cash beneath the floorboards that you woke
each morning with dread in your mouth
 a lover beside you, no lover beside you
sometimes a thick hush comes over
the block so even
the dogs seem in on it we left
your rusty cross hanging above the door
but i will never
believe in your god
Gerald.


Rules for a Female Poet

  1. Condemn the values of this patriarchy. Dust those cheekbones. Sharpen those heels.
  1. Self-deprecate. You gotta give them a reason to laugh, girl.
  1. If you want to be in The New Yorker, write about your garden or the day a deer came close before leaping away. If you want to be in Bitch Magazine, write about rape. If you want to be respected, don’t be a poet.
  1. Poems are a replacement for your reactive, oversharing, emotional baggage. Not an outlet.
  1. Never forget who you are-- to other people.
  1. If you want to perform, black is slimming. Gesture like a dancer, not a soldier.
  1. Self-promotion can take on many forms and colors. Go with it, girl. A poet goes and then looks back.
  1. A female poem should be ½ disclaimer, ¼ rage, ¼ calming imagery.
  1. If you wanna be on Def Poetry, work the label.
  1. Smile. Things have changed. Smile. You’re a poet. Smile.

©Coriel O'Shea Gaffney



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