Cheryl Clarke

i come to the city

Volume 16:1, Winter 2015
The Sonnet Issue

i come to the city

for protection
and to witness the thick transactions
of women
and women
and dance with my head.
My turns are calculated
to end on the right foot
to subdue the hip movements.
The city fumes with expectations
and the smells of women
wanting women.
I been in love
six times in the last six months
and ain’t done tryin yet.

Reprinted from Living as a Lesbian, A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2014, with permission from the author.  Thanks also to Julie R. Enszer of Sinister Wisdom.


Cheryl Clarke was raised in Washington, DC, and earned her undergraduate degree from Howard University in 1969, and a PhD from Rutgers University in 2000. She is the author of five books of poems: Narratives (1981), Living as a Lesbian (1986), Humid Pitch (1989), Experimental Love (1993), and Days of Good Looks: Prose and Poetry 1980 - 2005 (2006), as well as the landmark study After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement (2005). Clarke's second book, long out of print, was reissued in the Sapphic Classics Series from A Midsummer Night's Press and Sinister Wisdom in 2014. Clarke is the recipient of a 2013 Kessler Award from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York. She taught at Rutgers University for 41 years, retiring in 2013. She is co-owner of a used bookstore in Hobart, NY and lives in Jersey City, NJ. To read more about this author: "I'll Settle for a Moment of Glory": Lesbian-Feminist Poetry in Washington by Julie R. Enszer