An Elegy For Maddy

TW: racial violence

This poem is inspired by the title character Madison Abigail Washington, in Tiffany D. Jackson’s new book, The Weight Of Blood.

Adele said in that one song
that she could sit fire
to the rain.

What happens when rain
turns to fire at the ends of
fingertips which were told to pray
and let whiteness be

the reward at the end

of the denial of all blackness.

They will call you mad.


Tell you to cover your scars
that no part of you is needed
or necessary
Nor should ever be visible.

And yet Dylan Thomas
tells us to
“rage, rage against the dying of the light”.

And she did!

Indeed she raged—
everything within her alive
seeing and vibrating,
understanding everything in her that were stolen from her,
must be giving back
by her own hand.

the denial of the face of her mother,
the rejection of her father,
and a town that only knew her as Mad.

Then mad she was–mad she will remain

as torrents of glass,
Paint, metal
Blood and screams,
Become strange fruit
As history & present collide
with bodies unnatural
With limbs missing
And swinging in
Billie and Nina’s Southern Breezes, gotdammit!

Heels click as thoughts do
as fire encases everything
which pushed her out
or pushed her under.

Indeed, let Maddy be mad!

Let Maddy be mad for
everything that happened to her everything happened
to people who look like her
mad for the people
who still have the audacity to call her
nigg3r to her face-
Unblinking at the word that
Queued dark harvests
She snaps jaws and hearts
Like twigs.

Giving themto the infinity
To drown into as their ancestors do—
Loud & publicly.

Yes, yes let Maddy be mad!
Let Maddy be mad!
Let Maddy rage!

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light
let everything in her that has breath, praise the dark gods
that gave her the gift of insight
and fire and thought
praise be the rage
That allows her to
inflict to rebuke,
and to resist all controls
Because they said she
Didn’t ever belong
that made her hide
that she is too much

Yes, let Maddy be mad.

—JBHarris, October 2022