Dana Vivian White

Three Poems

In The Likeness of God, As We’re Told (How Beauty Through The Ages Wipes Us Out)

Art museums are largely devoid when you’re Black, for all their supposed fineness.
The queue for entry is your forewarning of that quiet constant celebration — old as the Bible, older
even – of your erasure from the real world as depicted through their imaginings through the ages,
blank faces lined up to see only their reflections in perpetuity.

Once inside, you risk vanishing in those corridors,
in the perverse immortalized gaze of the once and eternal pillager, of their complicit wives, of their children borne of that bloody privilege,
you risk becoming nothing but color
on the delicate cheeks of ubiquitous cherubs,
or falling into their flaccid forms in oil, breaking apart against their chiseled forms in marble or painted wood or terracotta, only to be swept away.

And the Black guards safe only in their Black suits are protecting the priceless from you,
you Black vanishing thing.
Art museums are so starkly devoid of our reflection, of Black.
Can’t imagine God or Beauty looks like any of that.

Then naturally you wonder in whose likeness you
Black vanishing thing are
running down a staircase,
through the next wing and around a rotunda in which another fucking cherub emerges
this time from a fountain in the center
solid marble and white, so real as to mock you now a mere shadow, fading,
certainly not God-like or beautiful
or really even there if not guarding the likenesses of the once and eternal pillager, the blank face
Madonna, her pale son the Savior you wait for in vain to save you, the cherubs you could never be
if you wanted.


Capicu Club Goals

Will I be welcome
among the old men,
the abuelos and eldest tios
playing dominoes?

I admit I have
capicu club goals.
Pero, I don’t know,
like my hip switch and
my limp wrists change things.

When my beard has gone
all silver and my
brimmed hats are many
maybe my stretched S
won’t matter as much.

Little Boricua
boys who grow to be
not men at all but
a prettier sort
play capicu too.

Perhaps we give up
certain birthrights when
we give back all that
machismo, you know?
Our fathers decide.



Carved my desperate dreams of flight
into the bark of side by side paper birches,
all pictures and symbols wrapped around them like
crude hieroglyphs.
Tossed adobo into the wind while whispering
a Sacred Femme incantation.
trabaja conmigo
Under cover of dense, secretive canopy
kid brujeria is really most powerful.

There’s a conga beat I put in that soil with my barefoot steps,
running through those woods and away
from the first man to hate the magic in me.
You may laugh but it’s true and it rises even now through the roots;
you would feel it rise into you, I swear.

They do dance atop the branches
whenever I return and I often do
return there
to sing from my belly, hips swaying in time with theirs,
to celebrate dreams we made come true.

“Brujxchild” previously appeared in Found Them, by Francisco-Luis White, 2016. Reprinted with permission of the author.


Dana Vivian White is an Afro-Latinx, non-binary writer and speaker, living in the District of Columbia. White has published poems in Vetch Journal and Lambda Literary. Their HIV commentary has been published in TheBodyPRO and Equality for Her.