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Nicole Wallace

(c) Aslan Chalom



named after a street
conceived after a kegger

the further away we get

this fine dark

hair curls

to ringlets


this fire

pulled from the river

gichiziibi omaa
omaa gakaabikaang

nicole is not who i thought she was

and i don’t yet know the word for

gaawiin mashi ingekenimaasii nimbaabaa

i just laid on the floor for a while
the problem is i can do whatever i want
and i’m not supposed to know how to say i don’t know in the first place

let the wind in
on nights like this


of clouds moving through the sky

nothing more lonesome than that
lonesome fucking dutch painting
you loved so much

her hair

next to our bed

do you like conflict?

let it in

this humidity

look at at the lights come down
through the trees, my girl

the way it looks pink and gray

between the sun and this morning on wyckoff

this exhaust

how do you say: the flowers fell from the trees?

be more specific

my girl,
learn your grammar

my girl, my girl
i am learning i say

o g i n i i w a a n d e g

pink roses on the pillowcase

good fortune comes
it comes and comes

and i don’t know what’s good for me

but oh so deeply

elemental pressures
beautiful stones

the strength card comes up

it says: take the lion by its face, my girl

learn your grammar

look down into its eyes, down into it

a p a n e a p a n e a p a n e inde’izhiwijigaade

and i want to get on top

but i am just so tired

let the wind brush over it
bad judgment comes and comes my girl you are learning
what it means:

waabigwaniin gii-pangisinoon mitigoog

when the flowers fall from the trees

gisinaa omaa miinawaa / /


this cold snap

it’s a myth, laura says
the smell of $6 shirts

the light coming down
through the trees the grass

nicole is not who i thought she was

my girl all this green ozhaawashkwaawizi


(First published by Lit Hub)



Nicole Wallace’s first chapbook, WAASAMOWIN, was published by IMP in 2019. Most recently, Nicole was the June/July 2020 poetry micro-resident at Running Dog and a 2019 Poets House Emerging Poets Fellow. Recent poetry can be read in print in Survivance: Indigenous Poesis Vol. IV Zine and online at Running Dog, A Perfect Vacuum, and LitHub. Originally from Gakaabikaang (Minneapolis/surrounding area), Nicole is of mixed settler/European ancestry and is a patrilineal descendent of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe). They currently live and make work on occupied Canarsee and Lenape territory (Brooklyn, NY) where they are also the Managing Director of the Poetry Project.

See full list of 2019 Emerging Poets Fellows