Set in South Central Los Angeles in the early 1990s, Poetic Justice is one woman's journey out of mourning and into joy. Poetry narrates this journey, with the film opening to a voiceover of "Alone" and closing with "Phenomenal Woman." Named by her mother who was pregnant with her during law school, Justice (Janet Jackson) works as a hair-dresser by day and has a solitary existence, writing poetry in her journal and living alone in the house of her recently deceased grandmother. In the opening sequence, Justice's boyfriend, a "street pharmacist," is murdered in front of her, and violence (both street and domestic) remains a strong element throughout the film.

An unlikely courtship of Justice and Lucky (Tupac Shakur), the local postman, occurs during a road trip to Oakland with their best friends, Iesha (Regina King) and Chicago (Joe Torry), a tragic-comic couple whose passion does not survive the journey. As Justice and Lucky grow closer, secrets are revealed, and defenses are lowered. Lucky's family in Oakland suffers a horrible loss, which almost destroys their new and fragile intimacy, but a final scene of forgiveness suggests that Justice and Lucky are setting out on a new journey--together.

Maya Angelou appears in a cameo during a family reunion, and her brief ruminations on love, right and wrong, parents, and children provide an emotional anchor for the film.

Written and directed by John Singleton (1993). Poetry by Maya Angelou. Rated R.