I wish I knew how
It would feel to be free
I wish I could break
All the chains holding me —Nina Simone


today i am a black woman in america
& i am singing a melody ridden lullaby
it sounds like:
              the gentrification of a brooklyn stoop
              the rent raised three times my wages
              the bodega and laundromat burned down on the corner
              the people on the corner
                          each lock & key their chromosomes
                          a note of ash & inquiry on their tongues
 
today i am a black woman in a hopeless state
i will apply for financial aid and food stamps
          with the same mouth i spit poems from
i will ask the angels of a creative god to lessen
          the blows
& i will beg for forgiveness when i curse
          the rising sun

today, i am a black woman in a body of coal
i am always burning and no one knows my name
i am a nameless fury, i am a blues scratched from
the throat of ms. nina—i am always angry
i am always a bumble hive of hello
i love like this too loudly, my neighbors
think i am an unforgiving bitter
            sometimes, i think my neighbors are right
            most times i think my neighbors are nosey

today, i am a cold country, a storm
brewing, a heat wave of a woman wearing
red pumps to the funeral of my ex-lover's

today, i am a woman, a brown and black &
brew woman dreaming of freedom

today, i am a mother, & my country is burning
           and i forget how to flee
from such a flamboyant backdraft
                       —i’m too in awe of how beautiful i look
            on fire

More by Mahogany L. Browne

Ego-Tripp(ed)

& then the poet became G  D/like
just’a rolling his tongue everywhere
like G O D must’ve
when the earth got birth(ed) & even

           after the fertile soil turned
over on herself/  & the sky--a mix

between "blue&what you looking @?"

(that was sometime afta the 5th day)

when the crumbling grit shook her grin

loose    crossed each arm & said

     “Man? Nah…we good”

the blk(est) night

the blk(est) night
be a blk girl

she think

her hair
too good
    & her waist
    too small
        & her fit
        too cute
            & her jeans
            too flyy

& her mama ain't nothing
like her
& the bitches
on the corner
ain't nothing like her
& can't nobody sweat her style      
                                 but jesus

Redbone Dances

If you ain’t never watched your parents kiss 
             ain’t neva have them teach you 
‘bout the way lips will       to bend & curve 
against a lover’s affirmation 

If you ain’t never watched the knowing nod 
of sweethearts worn away & soft 
as a speaker box’s blown out hiss 

If you ain’t witnessed the glue 
that connected your mother & father 
—how they fused their single selves 
into the blunt fist of parents 

If you ain’t sure there was a time when 
their eyes held each other like a nexus
breaking the lock to dip dark marbles 
into certain corners of a shot glass 

If you ain’t never known a Saturday night 
slick with shiny promises & clouds 
wrapped wet in a Pendegrass croon 

If you ain’t been taught how 
a man hold you close      so close 
…it look like a crawl 

If you ain’t had the memory 
of your mother & father sliding 
hip to hip         Their feet whisper 
a slow shuffle & shift       Her hand 
on his neck grip the shoulder of 
a man that will pass his daughters 
bad tempers       & hands like bowls

If you ain’t watched a man 
lean into a woman His eyes 
a boat sliding across bronze 
             His hands 
pillared in her auburn hair       Her 
throat              holds     the urge 

to hear how her voice sounds against 
the wind of him 

If your skin can’t fathom the heat 
of something as necessary as this… 

Then you can’t know the hurricane 
of two bodies    how    the bodies
can create the prospect of a sunrise
how that sunrise got a name 
             it sound like: a blues song; 
a woman’s       heart breaking; 
From the record player skipping 
             the sky             almost 

blue 

Related Poems

The neighbor’s buddy watching my screen through the window

Because the tube is turned to the window, the neighbor’s buddy         coughs
a cough of pigeons. a hack of grackle. a bird out the window. It’s         like

the neighbor’s buddy on my ledge, smoking. The neighbor’s                 chum in the blinds,
the eyes that peer, the eyes that open. propped and sunglassed.         a kind

of smoking blackbird, an inveterate

tombirder. His leather wings are splayed. his rock in the cold.            He has one foot on ice porch
and one foot wiggle. one foot rockerbird. a one-foot band. His            cough is the cough

of the myriad smoker, the murder of smoker. There is quiver of         murder. His cough
is the cough of a white boy, northern. of a Michigan leather. of           the white boy jacket,

his leather like hair. The air is gray like cig smoke. gray like ash.
gray with the onset of northern porchlike spring and its                       porchstep rain. Wet

and snowy, the neighbor, his buddy in leather. like me, in                     leather. In a wet snow,
rocking. in a porch band leather. leather in April. April wet and         still, one foot to the other.