So by sixteen we move in packs
learn to strut and slide
in deliberate lowdown rhythm
talk in a syn/co/pa/ted beat
because we want so bad
to be cool, never to be mistaken
for white, even when we leave
these rowdier L.A. streets—
remember how we paint our eyes
like gangsters
flash our legs in nylons
sassy black high heels
or two inch zippered boots
stack them by the door at night
next to Daddy’s muddy gardening shoes.

  • Amy Uyematsu, "Deliberate" from Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain, published by Story Line Press.  Copyright © 1997 by Amy Uyematsu.  Reprinted with the permission of the author.

  • Source: Nights of Fire Nights of Rain (Story Line Press, 1997)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I have always loved poetry, but through Poetry Out Loud I have learned a greater respect for all different types of poetry. This competition is so much more than memorizing and reciting a poem; I became very invested in each one of my poems."
Janessa Gould
2017 WI POL Champion