Josephine Baker Find Herself-Patience Agbabi

I was looking at this picture of the inimitable Josephine Baker and was pondering the path that she set for other female entertainers with her audacity. I have admired her for a long time, long before the movie about her life. When I was a teenager, my friends and I were known as The Rainbow Tribe which is what she called her children.  My first thought was to write a poem inspired by this picture but then I found Patience Agbabi’s poem and had to share it. I hope that you enjoy it!

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She picked me up
like a slow-burning fuse. I was down
that girls’ club used to run in Brixton,
on acid for fuel. Lipstick lesbians,
techno so hardcore it’s spewing out Audis.
She samples my heartbeat and mixes it with
vodka on the rocks. I’m her light-skinned, negative,
twenty-something, short black wavy-bobbed diva.
She purrs La Garçonne, fancy a drink? I say
Yes. She’s crossing the Star Bar like it’s a catwalk. So sleek!
A string of pearls, her flapper dress
studded with low-cut diamonds
through my skin, straight to my heart.
Twenties chic! She works
me up and down. I worship
the way she looks.

The way she looks
me up and down. I worship
twenties chic. She works
through my skin, straight to my heart
studded with low-cut diamonds.
A string of pearls her flapper dress.
Yes! She’s crossing the Star Bar like it’s a catwalk so sleek
she purrs, la garçonne! Fancy a drink? I say.
Twenty-something, short, Black, wavy-bobbed diva:
Vodka on the rocks, I’m her light-skinned negative.
She samples my heartbeat and mixes it with
techno so hardcore it’s spewing out Audis
on acid for fuel. Lipstick Lesbians,
that girls’ club used to run in Brixton
like a slow-burning fuse. I was down.
She picked me up.

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