Donna Karen Weaver

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is a graduate of The University of Pittsburgh with a BA in English Writing and editor-in-chief of Caketrain Journal and Press.  She was awarded the Scott Turow Prize for fiction in 2003. Her poem "Freckles" won an honorable mention from the University of Northern Colorado’s The Crucible. Donna was accepted to the Catskills Writing Workshop in 2002 with a scholarship, and to the Cave Canem Summer Workshop in 2005. Her work has recently appeared in or is forthcoming from Kota Press, Loop, Whimperbang, Poetry Motel, The Crucible, Controlled Burn,, and Ghoti. Donna is at work finishing her memoir, A Lot of Girl Falling.







You burned a hole in the condo

carpet that night and your mother sewed it

back together sitting Indian-style.

We weren’t really related climbing

the lifeguard chair for a picture, after 5, swimming

at our own risk, trampling all of those sandcastles.


I was embarrassed my mother’s shorts climbed.

You told me I would be prettier once my hair was longer.

I always thought you looked like Patrick Swayze

even as a boy, big head on your little shoulders,

the times I almost touched your hair. When you slept


on the floor next to my bed our last night in Ocean City,

I wanted you to kiss me, reach up and touch me under

my covers. You said we shouldn’t because we’re cousins.

I knew you didn’t know what color my father was.





Your mother didn’t call my mother to tell her you got kicked out

of Pittsburgh Central Catholic for stealing the scale in the nurses


office to weigh out your pot . You wanted to do things like loosen

swing set bolts at family reunions in North Park instead of trying


to play bocci with our drunk, sweaty uncles. You talked about how

many girls you fingered and how many of them bled. Uncle Chick


caught us smoking in the cemetery across the street from our pavilion.

The troublemaker and the little nigger, he said. You called him Uncle Dick


said she’s my cousin, don’t ever call her that. You put it out on his

shiny black shoe still greasy from frying peppers, onions, and sausages.





He tells his mother even the neighbors

are slamming their doors

in his face on Easter Sunday. He only needs

$20 to buy his son a prepackaged Easter

basket, a bag for him until Monday.


You don’t know what it’s like, he says, to wake

up aching like you got the flu everyday.

He’s smoking crack in the back seat while she

drives him to work and it’s burning her throat.


She asks his aunt for rat poison so she can

help him on his way. Now that he’s walking upstairs

with an extension cord and beer, he wraps

it around ten times tight, writes, sorry for the pain,


problems, p.s. it’s all over now. He’s hanging next

to her only pair of black slacks, pissing on shoes,

facing hangers like he’s looking in.


She Said


There is so much blackness in the room,

the smell of oil sheen, the goddamn haze of it

making stiff ponytails, synthetic braids shine.

I am learning to mmm hmm during conversation

say things like triflin’, why you always be, shoot,


but a real long shoot, like with ten o’s instead of two.

This woman with a space between her teeth tells me

I have good hair. She is drinking the best margarita

in the city, keeps talking with salt on her big lips.

I am watching women with braids, extensions, cornrows,


weaves, knock-off purses look at me like they know

my mother was white and she couldn’t keep my father.

She is walking towards me in orange stilettos, brown

breasts, tattoos above the nipples, curly ends of letters.

All that black ink looks blue on her brown skin.


I almost call her girlfriend, but it would be generic, so

I just call her girl. Tell her the orange stilettos are sharp.

She says she liked my hounds tooth skirt from upstairs,

I shouldn’t have told her it was from Talbots. She smells

like cocoa butter and that heavy hair spray I try to use,


makes my hair flake because it’s not that coarse of a grade.

I want to tell her my mother made me pass, that now I am

black too. Her orange clicks past me, the streaks of red in her

black weave, the same darkness around our cuticles. I don’t

tell her. I’m obsessed with my hair. She whispers Take care, sister.


The Braids I Never Had


They tell her, “You always be lyin’ anyway, Tisha.”

This little girl looks like she knows how to have sex,

her eyes will never need makeup.


I like the sound her beaded braids make when she shakes

no. She doesn’t want the white-people music in this store

scratches her white scalp between braid rows.


They ask who they look like, Ashanti, maybe a bit darker,

a younger Alliyah. This isn’t what I got to me, say ax instead

of ask, use hair mayonnaise instead of white-people gel.


They call me Miss Donna, I tell them people say I look

like Janet Jackson so they know I am part of what they are.

With big, brown lips they suck on small lollipops and I want


them, they’re thick white teeth they use to bite the clear candy.

They don’t look like my half sister, all white, thin weak arms.

They’re strong, thick legs and necks for girls nine, going on ten.


Spin Cycle


On your front porch, fourteen years later

you remember standing on my Mother’s

bumper like trash men, slapping the back


doors and she drove to the next mailbox.

We clung to the tire on the cargo door

ripping trial size bottles of Gain


laundry detergent off of mailboxes.

We tossed them into the open windows.

Laughed, not how we laughed in your


Dad’s Astro van when I Wanna Sex You Up

came on the radio on our way to a dance.

We laughed with cold red faces because it


was a school night in October, like the night

we stole a bottle of Heinz ketchup from Ralph’s

Frosty Drive-Inn. My Mother told us we should


keep it with us forever. You didn’t let me slip

off her bumper. We ran holding hands to her

brake lights, brightest red I’ve ever seen.




We Were Good Partners


We waited until the night before Halloween

and you told me that a good daughter would

help her Mother. That year your husband didn’t

sit at the top of your driveway in his silver station


wagon wearing camouflage with his shot gun

waiting for those goddamned tick-tackers.

We wore black trench coats, army issue dress.

We stuffed the pockets with rolls of toilet paper


crossed the street into Jackie and Bud’s yard.

You hated her because her house smelled like dog

piss, she didn’t invite you to her Tupperware parties,

and Bud dumped their grass clippings in our empty lot.


The toilet paper curled around her tree branches and we

wrapped her house in Charmin, breathing heavy, rushing

to mummify her scarecrow because she copied yours.

After I loved you because we stayed up late in your bed


watching John Carpenter’s, Halloween, movie marathon.

I laid on the pillow next to you, your hair smelled like

caramel apples and you pulled the burrs and leaves out of mine.