One Sweet Braid Down She Back

I want thirty more years of poems
I want tiger lily poems
orange blossom poems
poems by Lucille Clifton and Suheir Hammad

poems by Dionne Brand and Joy Harjo
I want Grace Jones to sing she “Bumper song,” sweet and lawless
doh care a damn what nobody feel
I want Jamaican yard talk poems how I love that Nannie ah de Maroons talk

gimme some Trini bush poems
spiked with Vat 19 rum
and plenty blue hundred dollar bills
lots and lots of blue bills so mami cud just stay home brush she hair and count bills

make flying fish and dumplings count blue bills and
make babies with names like
tamarind and flambeau names like one sweet braid down she back
names like kneel-n-pray

names like inhabited and poems to light white candles
poems that blow kerosene and inspire rage
poems to taunt the gods and almost get them
vex                                                             let mami stay home cut oil drums to
make steel pan

and rock melodies until my dead
twin come walking unshaven in de yard
with Malik on he arm and say
all right all’yuh we home

we light ah big yard fire make pigtail soup and smoked duck
and Guinness stout ice cream this time around de girls go churn de ice
       de boys go pour de salt we go praise sing for we dead
we go drink old oak rum rub a little on de chiren gums

we go brew mauby bark and sorrell
and at sixty-seven granny go collect fresh blood an child-bear again
Cheryl and mami go get back de twins dey lost at birth
da go be bacchanal plenty ting fer neighbors to talk bout.

More by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor

After Robert Fuller

Will the new aunt Jemima have dreads?
Why did Susan Smith kill her children and blame a black man?
Would a black man hang himself from a tree with his backpack still on?
Is it justice or revenge we are seeking?
What does justice look like?
What else can I do to feel safe?
Several times a day I stab my fingertips to threads
Looking for something more than blood as a reminder of life
An angry rain whips the window
We lay quiet in bed
Invite Kimiko Hahn to serenade us with her new poems
When she's done   my lover says
Give me something   something to munch on
I offer her my wrist.

Related Poems

Daughters, 1900

Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch,
are bickering. The eldest has come home
with new truths she can hardly wait to teach.

She lectures them: the younger daughters search
the sky, elbow each others' ribs, and groan. 
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch

and blue-sprigged dresses, like a stand of birch
saplings whose leaves are going yellow-brown
with new truths. They can hardly wait to teach,

themselves, to be called "Ma'am," to march
high-heeled across the hanging bridge to town.
Five daughters. In the slant light on the porch

Pomp lowers his paper for a while, to watch 
the beauties he's begotten with his Ann:
these new truths they can hardly wait to teach.

The eldest sniffs, "A lady doesn't scratch."
The third snorts back, "Knock, knock: nobody home."
The fourth concedes, "Well, maybe not in church. . ."
Five daughters in the slant light on the porch.