Lateef McLeod


Lateef McLeod is building his career as a writer and a scholar. He has earned a BA in English from UC Berkeley and an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. He is four years into the Anthropology and Social Change Doctoral program at California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. Source

I Am Too Pretty For Some Ugly Laws

I am not suppose to be here

in this body,


speaking to you.

My mere presence

of erratic moving limbs

and drooling smile

used to be scrubbed

off the public pavement.

Ugly laws used to be

on many U.S. cities’ law books,

beginning in Chicago in 1867,

stating that “any person who is

diseased, maimed, mutilated,

or in any way deformed

so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object,

or an improper person to be allowed

in or on the streets, highways, thoroughfares,

or public places in this city,

shall not therein or thereon

expose himself to public view,

under the penalty of $1 for each offense.”

Any person who looked like me

was deemed disgusting

and was locked away

from the eyes of the upstanding citizens.

I am too pretty for some Ugly Laws,

Too smooth to be shut in.

Too smart and eclectic

for any box you put me in.

My swagger is too bold

to be swept up in these public streets.

You can stare at me all you want.

No cop will buss in my head

and carry me away to an institution.

No doctor will diagnose me

a helpless invalid with an incurable disease.

No angry mob with clubs and torches

will try to run me out of town.

Whatever you do,

my roots are rigid

like a hundred-year-old tree.

I will stay right here

to glare at your ugly face too.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Body & Body Image



Strength & Resilience

Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”