Category: Poems

Movie Night

The first time your heart

Will break in front

of your daughter

It will be to your silence

And eyes that betray

Neither age

Nor suffering.

You will smile.

You will talk to her.

You will keep watching your movie.

You will remember.

You will swallow his name

To put it back into

Your heart,

Hoping it for not

To rise again.

-JBHarris, 6.2023


Due Mercy

Written after my ex-husband’s wife threatened to call the police on my daughter for screaming at her brother, making a bad joke, and her stepmother of a decade became Carolyn Bryant.

The incomparable Zora Neale Hurston.

To the White woman
who tried to call
the police on my child—

The prophets tell us
that there is
nothing new under the sun,
and because there is
nothing new under
the sun,
It is of great
and grave expectation
that Black woman
are never dumb.

But you
like me
who hold life
on the inside of you,
yet you pull death
from your mouth,
aiming at a child
who is defenseless
in this world,
whose only
recourse is to
Call the only name
she knows other
than God—


And her roar be but
whisper to you
and hurricane wind
to me
and I will sprout up
as wings as eagles
as Isaiah spoke
about to see
where the tears
have come from.

hiding her behind me
I stand in front of her
and death daily —

You do not scare me.

I push death back
into your mouth
that you may breed
and birth it as you
and all your kin
have known to
do for centuries.
you will not devour mine.

She knows who she is
to whom she belongs
and she knows
that she is part
Of Maya’s 10,000.
Plus 1.

She has my blood in her
Divine Father on the inside
of her
and how dare you
try and stifle life
in her that has
already begun!

Because when Black women cry,
even in girlhood,
they summons
the 10,000 who will
protect her
arm her
show her the faces
of enemy from a long way off.

These ancestors which
she will take with
her always,
and as the prophet said,
there is nothing
new under the sun
In life and death
is in the power
of the tongue in
those who choose
we eat the fruit of it.

Your fruit is chosen—
curse is already on your line.

Me and mine?

We gon be just fine.

-JBHarris, 5.25.2023

River Deep, Mountain High (Elegy for Tina Turner)

It is of the rolling of

Water in muddy rivers

That give the rebel

To the Belles along

Mississippi banks–

Give roar to what

Should have been


Gave power in havoc

Passion in chaos

And Anna became

Tina to tell us

How to get over

And the end of

One life is the

Gift of another.

The ancestral is God’s memory after all.

that is memory

Is gifted as


-JBHarris, 5.24.2023

Written after the passing of Tina Turner at age 83. STL KIDS CHANGE THE WORLD.

On Mother’s Day

Note: The line “No Black boys die on Mother’s Day” is taken from the poem of the same name from the book A PECULIAR PEOPLE by Steven Willis.

On the Internet,

there’s always

a thread going

that wishes mothers

happy Mother’s Day.

the one day

of the year

that the women

who are charged with

running the world are

supposed to put their feet up–

and yet the feet are up

and at’em

making sure kids

faces are washed

Breakfast is made

and coffee may be

sipped cold–

if at all.

on Mother’s Day,

we celebrate the

mothers of queer children

Disgarded and forgotten

By family of their births

the mothers who

are aunties by blood,

mothers who do

the job of mothering

when no one else would

whether it be in classrooms,

boardrooms, or in laundromats.

mother is both

noun and verb–

and because it is both-

–a thing and an action–

it is constantly needed

I know there was a poet

that one time that said

“no Black boys die on Mother’s Day”

because life is present

wherever a mother may be

Or lay their heads.

Happy Mother’s Day

to the women who

decided to mother,

even when they did

not know how

happy Mother’s Day

to the women who

stand in the gap,

and fill the gap,

and know how

to slap

away all things

by which attack the

children that are

in their charge.

Because trust and believe

no village is complete without a mother…

It is the women of your blood

that have gotten you this far.

It is the women of

your understanding

and of your ancestral forgetting

who have gotten you

to a place

by which you,too,

can step into the realm

known as mother.

Whether your womanhood be new

Forming, learned or Ancient,

because we know the ancient of days is also an us…

Happy Mother’s Day

is the whisper of breezes

through open windows

on summer nights

is why we fight

it is how we rage

against the dying

of the light…

go on mother we see you.

-JBHarris, 5.14.23

For This We Praise

Taken from Hannah Drake’s Twitter (4/7/23)

when they tell you

to write your bio,

tell them your pronouns

are try and me.

when they ask

your job description

your designation,

your pay rate

tell them you are

a troublemaker,

and you were

born to be a problem.

Show them your skin tone

the color of sun–

of the most excellent Earth,

by which your ancestors

were chained to,

brought from

you have every right

to exist

to challenge

to be

and be outspoken

even when your voice shakes.

be in the room

to bring others in

the room.

Let nothing be the same after us.

In this the holiest

of representation

of the I in us,

and we in them,

no, and we be the people

by which they represent.

We are going nowhere.

We are whom your ancestors

Warned about:

Melanin-wrapped memory.

Whom are called and unbowed

We are here and are coming.

There is no door locked us

because we will

bust out windows.

Change is here.

Let it continue with us.

-JBHarris, 4/7-2023

Written in response to the 2 Tennessee Representatives expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives in April 2023. They were expelled because they were demanding gun reform. On 4/7, they were reinstated.

The Villain Is Her (for Angel Reese)

Who does she think she is?

All bold and brash and black

who does she think she is?

being able to do everything

that white girls do!

doesnt she know she

has to shrink back?

Who does she think she is?

Does she know she can’t do that here?

Don’t you know down here

Where mortals play that

she has to do just like they say?

And in the blackest way possible,

with the energy unstoppable

she give it right back to them,

wherever they are…

Whether in a park, a Court,

at stoplights or the street cars—

shrink back for what?

All that I am,

all that I was,

it’s just like Maya said:

I don’t come as one, but I stand as 10,000…

Who gon’ run up on me?

If the I in me

And I in Him

if they’re if there can

Be only one,

let that one be me.

Been betting on myself,

by myself,

and for myself,

because my people

are the great cloud of witnesses.

Whether it be ESPN or a drive-in

whether on movie screens,

on board rooms,

even on on free apps

That the people sneak

Out to check in break rooms

to watch me when

the residents are taking naps

I will be right here

With that same energy, you meet me with.

I know that Michelle told us when they go low, we go high

But now… Sometimes, when they go low, you got a let them know where else they can go

See this skin

Be that vibrainium

And it activates this ancestor


most powerful, kinetic energy

Since my people

are of the Sun

by the sun and saved

by the Son,

who are you to tell me

what I can’t do?

There’s no need to tell me to leave.

Especially, when I was here first.

-JBHarris, 4.3.2023

Note: This piece was written in response to the backlash that Angel Reese has gotten all year. This nation has a sick obsession with humbling Black women. If that be so, if we can’t be the hero? Then we gonna be the villain. Either way we gon’ win.

An Elegy For 88 Keys

My adopted brother, LeArthur Antonio Lee, died January 6. He was a brainstorming partner, my trusted friend, music, producer, confidant and all-around good dude.

I miss him. -JBHarris

Rest easy, Big Brother

God gave me a brother-

I forgot He was gonna need him back.

Someone to talk shop with

laugh with—

cry to, and be

reminded that everything

in me is neither fraud,

nor to be afraid of.

For all that burned in him,

finding peace between

Ebony and Ivory,

he gave pieces back

to the world which

had not given all

he demanded.

And now…

those fingers are still.

The keyboards dusty.

The songs unsung.

Melodies change into memories.

And we all don’t know what to do.

God gave me a brother—

I forgot He was gonna need him back.

-JBHarris, January 2023


Image from Lensa in December 2022

Tell me where my sister is

because the days are long

and the night is dark.

Tell me where my sister is

because I know she is


wounded, weary and sad.

Tell me where my sister is

because I know

somewhere she is trying

to breathe underwater

and concrete

and tree roots

and she is trying

to get back to me

tell me where my sister is

so that I may be comfort to her

tell me where my sister is

because I cannot seem to find her.

someone please let my sister

know that I am on the lookout for her

that I am looking for her

in grass and water

and trees

and mirror.

let my sister know that she is not by herself.

Let my sister know

I see her face

as my face

As I seek after my own self

and bring healing with me.

Tell my sister that I am on my way.

Tell my sister I bring

ancestral help with me

because God has equipped

me to find her for just such a time is this

to remind her that she will not die here!

strengthen me again oh God,

So I might find my sister,

remind her of the divinity

which rests on the inside

of her

let my sister know

she doesn’t have to hold her breath

For much longer because

Who were coming

are coming

and are now here

that she would be rescued.

All she need do is to exist.

tell me where my sister is

because the days are long and night is coming.

JBHarris, December 2022

(written in response to the backlash of Megan Jovon Ruth Pete AKA Meg Thee Stallion during the and the trial of Tory Lanez when he was accused of shooting her.

Bonus Piece: Fast Girl Epilogue (NSFW)

While this piece was not included in this printed work, it was too good not to share. -JBH

When I asked you

to be my first,

I meant that



The everything

first time

my legs would shake

on your shoulders.

The first time

I will ever feel a

spread in my hips

to the point every chakra

would realign to

ruin me for

any other man

that would dare

look at me

knowing that I was yours

deeper than senses

longer than love

quicker than Lightning flashes –

that kind of belonging

you can’t buy…

that kind of power—

you can’t mimic

when I asked you

into my body

to be the first

to explore

to awaken

to erupt everything in me

that was meant for you

I meant that.

I meant that,

like God is real

admitting all I held

for you—

would belong to you,

which means there

was a lock on the inside

of me with

your name on it—

If you thought my

mouth was slick,

You’ll find out

What else already is

A lock that

no one could find

but you—

Just like they put

names on hollow point

bullets so that the soul

will be captured,

I wanted to be


to be held

to be found

by you and none but you.

Knowing the caliber of love

and love making,

Relentless exploration

that the kids call fucking

you would give to me

—and only me —

because I asked

it of you.

when I asked you

to be my first

I meant for you

to be the last

because how often

do you get to

touch the sun

and live to tell about it?

-JBHarris, October 2022