Three Tracks from Brown Girl Mixtape

An illustration of two female figures, rendered in almost a Cubist style. A small male figure sits on the hand of the one of the figures.
You Will Grow Together in Your Rage, illustration by Meg Lionel Murphy

“You’re the One,” by Fanny (1971)

Hell yeah, let this Brown Girl sing because I know what I know and I know what I need. 
I know there’s no roadmap, no neat paved ways for someone like me. 
I’m going anyway. Watch me go. I’m going to draw my own map. I’m going to lead me to myself. 
I see some avenues, then everyone blocks my path, catcalling chickadee, cooing babydoll. They call me wild honey flower. They want to touch my hair. 
Hell nah, I’m singing, hear me spin and weave lyrics with these woman hands, hangnails and all. 
Hell yeah, let this Brown Girl be, ruby rock and roll gypsy in a big man’s big dirty world. 
I make ovaries of stone. I make the hottest blood. I’m the one. I’m my own thing.


“Orange Moon,” Erykah Badu (2000)

We are always the light, fireflies circling ’round the star apple trees. 
How good it is to be this sweet, smoldering light. 
How good it is, to be this sun setting fire to the bay, gleaming off glass, diamonds before the dusk. Girl, we are gems cut so keen and fine. How we cut. 
How we hum honey, open the lungs, the throat, and our song a chorus of praise and day. We glimmer so bright. 
How good it is, to be so bright, to pay no mind to those who don’t abide, so many who would dull our shine.


“Drop,” Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (2001)

What are the things that tear up your language, what are all the things that make you bite your tongue to be bloodless. Drop them all, stone by stone and resound. Tune your vocal chords, slough away the layers of white noise. The sting when exposed anew. Smooth the creases in your voice’s scraps and crumpled pages, soothe and strum. Sometimes, when we hear a murmur, a hum, we forget that is us. Sometimes, we get down, and sometimes, the throat is tender as waking for Sunday-morning mass.

Photo: Peter Dressel

Barbara Jane Reyes ( is the author of Invocation to Daughters (City Lights, 2017) and four previous collections of poetry, including Poeta en San Francisco (TinFish) and Diwata (BOA Editions). Letters to a Young Brown Girl is forthcoming from BOA in 2020.