#BlaPoWriMo: Write me a Black poem

trendy black woman reading burning newspaper in garden

Write me a Black poem.
Tell me—
How does one define a poem that is Black?

Is it as simple as saying “I AM Black, therefore,
so is this poem”—
I think, therefore I am*—
Or would you prefer a physical description?

This poem is Black like the nappy roots
that grow from my scalp,
that kink and coil around each strand
and lock like fingers.

This poem is Black like the bridge
of my nose that spreads out, rounds
at the nostrils, and curves down.

This poem is Black like my broad shoulders
and wide hips inherited from
generations of Mandigo breeding.

This poem still feels the trauma of chattel slavery,
the unprovoked hatred of its very existence.

This poem professes that its words matter,
refuses to be labeled “terrorist” by blank white pages.

This poem will be ripped up and shredded
like confetti blasted into the faces of
parishioners from AR-15s.

This poem is Blacker than your Blaccent,
your lip injections, your spray-on tan,
your BBL.

This poem is the nigga you want to call me.
This poem is justice.
This poem is rage.
This poem screams Her name as you dig
your knee into His neck.

This poem is the soot from Confederate
battle flags burned on a funeral pyre.
This poem is true Southern pride.
This poem is the Blackness
underneath your white hood.

This poem is defiance.
This poem votes for change.
This poem will flap in the wind on
the tree from which you lynch it,
and everyone shall read its message.

This poem eats you alive from the inside—
the guilt, the shame, the torment,
God’s judgment when He tells you
you turned away angels
Black as Cain.**

This poem will stand firm.
This poem will defend.
This poem will proudly boast
of how Black it is.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Written after Amiri Baraka’s Black Art.

*Coined by René Descartes, a philosophical principle that says because I am able to think, I exist.

**From Phillis Wheatley’s On Being Brought from Africa to America: “Remember, ChristiansNegros, black as Cain…”

Welcome to Day 1 of Black Poetry Writing Month (aka BlaPoWriMo)! BlaPoWriMo is a month-long challenge to write a poem every day during the month of February (Black History Month) related to Black history, Black people, or the Black experience.

Today’s optional prompt is, as the title suggests: Write me a Black poem. Whatever that looks like for you.


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