Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Redbone, Redbone Have You Heard?

Bam got tight eyes 
             Real tight 
He crazy, girl 
             But he fun to be around 
He’s so funny 
             He the life of the party 
He the oldest of them boys over on Alcatraz 
             He love them birds – the pigeons 
That’s what I heard 
             He got a cage in the backyard 
He got a cage on the roof 
             He make the cage out of cardboard & wire 
He scale roofs 
             He think he (can) fly 
I heard he stole the pigeon from Albert’s coop 
             All them boys went looking for Bam 
He just waited for them on the stoop 
             I heard they went looking through his flock 
Heard they ain’t found nothing 
             Heard they ain’t believe him 
I heard his daddy made him fight them one-on-one 
             Everybody know they call him Bam cause of his hands 
Cause his eyes so tight & you never know when he go boom! 
             He always had quick hands 
That’s how he call them birds back home 
             The rough of his hands clapping & singing loud 
That’s how he fought them boys 
             His hands ain’t but a blur 
He slap against the wind & win 
             Them boys ain’t never forgot 
But hell, what they goin’ do—he see everything 
             His eyes so tight you never know what he thinking 
He cracked his knuckles & they jumped on him 
             He clap his hands fast & it sound like a splintered bone 
They say the it sound like firecrackers 
             He say the birds can hear him that way 
He say if he clap loud enough they know to come home 
             He say home with his mouth big & smiling 
But his eyes never change, he’s so handsome 
             They say that’s how he knew where to hide Albert’s pigeon 
Say he hid Albert’s bird behind the broken board 
             His eyes shine like crazy laughter man lightning 
He got hands like his daddy 
             His hands are so quick 
                          —They steal anything worth something 

Credit


Copyright © 2015 by Mahogany Browne. From Redbone (Willow Books, 2015). Used with permission of the author.

Author


Mahogany L. Browne

Mahogany L. Browne is the author of Redbone (Aquarius Press, 2015) and Black Girl Magic (Roaring Brook Press, 2018), among numerous other books.

Date Published: 2016-04-05

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/redbone-redbone-have-you-heard