#BlaPoWriMo: Reading Lesson

little Black body looking up at his mother and holding her hand

African . . .

American . . .

Elsewhere . . .

We drive by American Furniture Warehouse
and my son, pressing his face into the glass window,
clicks his tongue, purses his lips, scrounges his brain
for the sound to match the letter, and enunciates
each syllable as he attempts to read the words
displayed across the front of the building.

I want to applaud him.
Pronouncing the word A-MER-I-CAN
at three when he’s only just learned the alphabet
deserves ice cream, chocolate chip cookies,
a kiss on the forehead from Mommy.
My little protégé, grandson of W.E.B. Du Bois,
a talented tenth to raise his people
from the pits of darkness.

But I fear how he discovered the other two . . .

African . . .

Elsewhere . . .

as if he believes his heritage to be disposable.

And I worry.

Do I not read enough tales of Anansi, the cunning spider
before he falls asleep? Does my forgetful husband
allow him to watch mind-numbing cartoons
of cross-eyed doofuses and drooling talking sponges
instead of the Gullah Gullah Island reruns
I record and set aside for him?
Does he still play with his action figures,
John Stewart’s Green Lantern?
Falcon soaring above the Marvel Universe?

I did it, Mommy. I read the sign!

I look at him through the rearview mirror,
smile weakly at my baby boy’s reflection.
Does he know who he is?
Can he see himself in
the myths and fables,
the educational programming,
the animated superheroes?

I want to pull over,  
sweep him up in my warm 
Black embrace. There’s nothing
elsewhere about being African American,
I wish I could say with an undeceiving heart.

© 2016 Nortina Simmons

This is a revision of an older poem I wrote last year.

Click here to read the original.


11 thoughts on “#BlaPoWriMo: Reading Lesson

    1. Thank you! I try to make sure my readers leave with something more than just “Oh, that was a good poem.” I want them to still be thinking about it long after they’ve read it! Some of the best works of literature that I’ve read have done that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I would like to, but so far it’s just me. 😦 If anyone else is writing poems for the prompts, they haven’t pinged back to my page and I haven’t been able to find them. The challenge as a whole has been driving a ton of traffic to my blog though, so there’s still hope. It’s only week two, maybe I’ll get some participants soon 🙂


      1. Why don’t you write another post about people joining in on your Black History Month challenge along with what they need to do and ask your readers to reblog it. I will reblog it for you and possibly, so will your other readers.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am very new, so I did not know how to connect my work to your blog. The Phyllis Wheatley write is a tribute to add to Black History as requested. You can attached that or what is needed. I didn’t know how to pinge it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, pinging is easy! All you have to do is paste the link from one of my posts anywhere on your post and the pingback to your post will appear in the comments section on my page. I’ll still reblog, retweet, etc. though 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Let me know I'm not talking to myself.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.