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A purple blush above the marshes; below on the wooden deck, two boys squeal at the cage of crabs they’ve yanked from the muddy inlet. Each year we come back to this: A heron’s white cross sails towards the sea, the tide crawls out, and a wasp sputters about the wooden shelter as I take it […]learn more
They say you were a farmer, I never heard your voice, I heard you were the oldest child, Did you ever have a choice? Did you ever have a choice to say, “I want to be a girl?” Did you ever have a choice to say, “I want to see the world?” You lost […]learn more
Among the Shona
a family’s success
is weighed by their children’s happiness
and the family’s state of health
not by the accumulation of material wealth.
Shona people sure are wise
to have the foresight to emphasize
values that strengthen family ties
traditions of sharing, traditions of caring
traditions that instill dignity and pride
that generate beauty on the inside.
This poem re-stages a tracing match (quarrel) between two
Jamaican women. Common cuss-words like “boogooyagga” (low-grade) “heng-pon-nail ” (bedraggled) are used.
Gwan gal yuh fava teggereg,
Ah wey yuh gwine goh do?
Yuh an yuh boogooyagga fren
Dem tink me fraid o’ yuh?
Goh wey, yuh fava heng-pon-nail,
Is me yuh want fe trace?
Me is jus de one fi teck me han
An leggo pon yuh face.
Fe me han noh jine chu ch an me naw
Pay licen fe me mout’,
Me wi tell yuh bout yuh–se yah
Gal noh badda get me out.
do your parents
she asked him.
The front porch
In the kitchen as the toast browns
I put on my 3rd grade cateye glasses
pearly blue with rhinestone tips
I found with the baby books.
Music’s echoing into the room
from the radio my brother hooked up
in the bathroom upstairs.
I prance to the refrigerator,
doing tina turner
making my dress into a mini skirt
to get some juice.
Then my father comes in
& shakes his head
four years’ money for college
down the drain…
Always it’s either a beginning or some end:
the baby’s being born or its parents are
dying, fading on like the rose of the poem withers,
its light going out while gardens come in to bloom
Let us stand on street-corners
in the desolate era & propose
a new kind of crazyness
Let us salute one another
one by one two by two
the soft belly moving toward
the long sideburns
the adams apple or no apple at all…
The first sign was your hair, un-straightened, shortened from worry,
and it had only been a year since the wedding, but you had grown older, Mama.
I felt your usual care in the mustard greens, sweet potatoes and chicken, yet you smelled of whiskey and prayer.
I showed you the pictures, asked which you’d like remade and watched you fidget, unable to see them.
Raising your arm, you spoke of your rheumatism, it seems life left your arm first, like crumbs given to front-yard robins.
Age and need, those simple weeds, were gathering around and taking you away….
Reprinted by permission oflearn more
We swam in the rain-filled gully
three black kids
unmindful of death’s specter:
cow dung floating like a drowned corpse,
the level of that ditch
our shoulders’ height,
the water to our asses.
And just over the hill the weeds
bowed like cloistered nuns at vespers.
At eye distance just beyond,
our house’s top formed a gray peak
against the crimson sky.
We remembered our fun for days,
talked about it,
longed for another torrent of rain
so that we could splash again
in that death trap…
My Daddy has paid the rent
and the insurance man is gone
and the lights is back on
and my uncle Brud has hit
for one dollar straight
and they is good times
My Mama has made bread
and Grampaw has come
and everybody is drunk
and dancing in the kitchen
and singing in the kitchen
Oh these is good times
oh children think about the