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I Am Writing This by Elaine Shelly

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“I Am Writing This” by Elaine Shelly

because I stand among too many
dead bodies – black women dead of AIDS, black women
dead
of breast cancer, black women dead of being black women.
I am writing because I see too many of us wounded;
huddled into corners waiting for the next slap, the next
morsel
of love, the next affirmation that we are only the living dead.

I am writing because it is still too easy to call us
crazy bitches – a danger to ourselves and others, mostly
others.
I am writing this because we have learned to laugh at
ourselves too easily.
We laugh while cameras, for the sake of entertainment,
show us being dumped
into trash bins and highlight our butts and breasts
instead of our faces.
I am writing this because this is the third day and with it
has come the resurrection
of the skinny black model who slinks around in a leopard
skin.

I am writing this because I will not be conveniently
dismissed
as a cripple who must suffer because of my sins.
I am writing this because I do not hate my body.
I am writing this because I love myself and other black
women too damn much.

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And I’m Telling You

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Poem for Today

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“Kidnap Poem” By Nikki Giovanni
Ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i’d kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
You to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
Play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i’d kid
nap you

The Funeral by Norman Dubie

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“The Funeral”
It felt like the zero in brook ice.
She was my youngest aunt, the summer before
We had stood naked
While she stiffened and giggled, letting the minnows
Nibble at her toes. I was almost four—
That evening she took me
To the springhouse where on the scoured planks
There were rows of butter in small bricks, a mold
Like ermine on the cheese,
And cut onions to rinse the air
Of the black, sickly-sweet meats of rotting pecans.

She said butter was colored with marigolds
Plucked down by the marsh
With its tall grass and miner’s-candles.
We once carried the offal’s pail beyond the barn
To where the fox could be caught in meditation.
Her bed linen smelled of camphor. We went

In late March for her burial. I heard the men talk.
I saw the minnows nibble at her toe.
And Uncle Peter, in a low voice, said
The cancer ate her like horse piss eats deep snow.

Siana Bangura

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