On Writing A Fan Letter To Lynda Carter Circa 1975

Hot-combed ponytails grazing my shoulder, lip-pursed concentration,
Not a dumb No. 2 pencil—but my new blue BIC pen artfully scribing pages
In my wide ruled notebook. I practiced and practiced my W, its curves,

Loops and slants—its command over the alphabet. “The Capital W stands
Alone—it should NEVER touch other letters in any word,” Miss Manning
demanded,  tapping her yardstick to chalkboard. She favored Carol

Burnett, but not as funny—or at all—and a real Sargent Carter when
It came to cursive writing. But I did exactly as she asked,  because
I wanted the perfect W in my first letter to Wonder Woman, who just like

The letter, commanded space with curves, loops, slants—a perfection my
Eyes understood for reasons I didn’t quite get then. For me, it was simple—unless
Steve Trevor schlepped around—I loved watching her lift cars, tackle bad

Guys, golden lasso lies into truth—all to save the day, yet again. Most gloriously,
Was the way Wonder Woman stood tall with a hand on each star-spangled
Hip, strong and squarely alone. And soon, so did my W—and soon, so did I.

teri elam.jpg

teri elam

On Writing A Fan Letter Lynda Carter

Circa 1975

On Being Called The N-Word In

Atlanta, 2016: A Southern Ghazal*


Pronouns: She/Her

2 Poems

On Being Called The N-Word In Atlanta, 2016: A Southern Ghazal*

At six, barely knowing her A-B-Cs, first time this Southern girl called nigger

On the playground, hollow-pointed-word shot: her pint-sized heart caught “nigger”


Before flawless, now skewered, her heated veins drain their first blues—shame  

By Run Spot Run in school, kids learn mean tricks & invisible-ink her, nigger


At recess, taunting “eeny-meeny miney moe” boys run behind to snatch her up 

When “it” in hide-n-seek, but she knows she “ain’t nobody’s hollering nigger”


Her mama, who fought their fire with her own, would say, then roil ablaze after

Soiled-cotton-mouths snuff-drawled & spat at them both, “goddamn niggers”


Now older than her mother then, her toughened-tongue tries remixing to untooth it 

But Southern teeth grow fangs, this time a more forceful bite, “you nigger-bitch” 


And as if stuck in place, age six, she hemorrhages & rages & this Southern girl,

Boils & chokes up when venomous tongues noose-tie her name, call me—nigger. 

*"On Being Called The N-Word In Atlanta, 2016: A Southern Ghazal" was first published

in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Auburn Avenue.