Category: Poems

Bonus Piece: Fast Girl Epilogue (NSFW)

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

When I asked you

to be my first,

I meant that

first—

last

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

captured—

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

My Mom Texted Me At 5 AM To Go Vote

My mother doesn’t sleep—

and now with her being

the proud owner

of an empty nest,

she makes her rounds

every morning to make sure

all baby eaglets

with nest of their own

are fine—

but with the approaching

wildfire season, she touched

her wing to the head of her

Oldest Babybird

to remind her

it is her turn to go save the world.

-JBHarris, November 2022 (US Midterms 2022)

Elegy For A Dean Girl

His voice sounds
like how whiskey tastes
dark and hot
making you forget
all your problems
with one look
or one sip
should you be
gracious enough
to handle what comes
with no chaser—
what girl wouldn’t
want the guy
who was able to
chase the monsters away,
being able to see
what fear looks like
and towards it
in something that
is all American muscle
because as we know:

“Driver picks the music
passenger shuts his cakehole…”

Brother.
Father.
Lover.
Demon.

the embodiment of
wishes and dreams,
In leather jackets
And glass green eyes
Hiding more
Than the mouth will
Ever say

given to us
over and over again
through John and Mary,
big brother to Sam, Cass, Jack & Adam
And the vessel of the
most fearsome Michael—
it is to him that we
owe restless nights
and quiet mornings
and to know that
whatever is in the closet
under the bed
Or watching
From outside
he’s got to go
through him first.

Rest well Dean.

-JBHarris, October 2022

The Death & Burial Of Kanye West-III

III.

Is going to be slow-singing
and flower bringing
If My burglar alarm starts ringing
is what the Notorious BIG said
and protecting his space
and all those in it
clocking these dollars
and not worrying about
who hollers—
at the same time
now we must celebrate
the death of the Only One.

the death of his blackness
the death of his heart,
his vision,
and what we celebrated
in him…
has now died.

because it is now died
there is no need for repass.

We saw this coming.

There is no need to mourn,
because even Mary and Martha,
when they fell at the feet
of the Master were
told that on the last day
that their brother
who had died,
Christ would raise!

They had faith. We do not.

the same God of the universe
who gave alphabets, dialects,
and dreams, muses and music
with visions of the ability
to count all the stars in the sky—

We close the casket.
We lower hope and faith
Into the earth so that
Blackness is all he will know.

But we go on because
there is work to do
work to be undone.

The betrayal most complete in death walking around, as if nothing is wrong.
all things Black, boy, and joy
being erased in favor
of the lies the Only One
and his fellow betrayers
have swallowed because
scraps from the masters’
table you deem better
than feasts in their own
houses warm with dark faces
Which open and grant peace,
….And yet his mother is dead.

The one who believed
in him first the
one who believed him last
in it is fitting that the last people
that believe in him
are both Black and woman.

did the space
with free thought
exist in the same plane
As whiteness?
Where your Blackness goes to die,
Surrendered to by
Those who only know
Lies and thievery?

We commit the Only One
To his mother, Donda—
Let her open her arms to
The Only One.

There is no room for mourning
for this is celebrated!
because now you have
gotten what you want—
And there is no way back.

No one to open doors,
wipe tears and
pour back into you
what the world strips.

The Jesus you walked with doesn’t know you.

That old song
says ‘diamonds are forever’
but yet with this
one now returned
to earth?

It was always coal.

Will be turning our eyes to the East,
lifting our heads up from which
Comes our help—
there is no morning for Mr. West.

-JBHarris

The Death & Burial Of Kanye West-II

If,
from the combination of all things, knowing and Black comes this abomination of what we knew of him
whose very name,
translates to “Only One”.

how befitting it is
the Only One be unrecognizable— indistinguishable
apart from the oppressor.

with the same palm
which gave rhythm
and popped collars
now recruits fingers
to make hand
punch out and down
everyone else who he thinks
opposes him
and his pursuit of whiteness—

The Only One asks
Why we will not come with him?
Why we will not rejoice with him?

Why we will not betray
all that we know
and follow into the Sunken Place
with him when Chris had
his own friend
who was Black and male
to rescue him
because he had to GET OUT.

In this gospel
told by Jordan Peele
we find ourselves
In flashing lights hoping
What was there before
he fell, could be found
again—
to find nothing but carcass.

A house swept clean
Which the Only One
had the only, one key
And had the
One One’s had vision
wide enough
deep enough to keep
the Chicago River blue—
To keep the eyes of Black
and Brown children sparkly
because he looked like them…

now we have a relic
of what it means
to be both free and Black
but neither Black nor free!

and yet we are
to dispatch the angels
of our present warfare
to fight on his behalf?

No.

For the extremism
he is embraces
Before us all
draped in White Lives Matter
With his Balenciaga Binky
wanting power, comfortable
and luxury custom to him
By his own mouth.

Are we are supposed
ignore this…
because his mother is already dead.

But yet he spits
in the face of all our dead mothers
dead forefathers,
who fought for the right
for him to be the Only One
to walk in the spaces
do what he does best—

And here we are here
and here we will remain
be the evidence of
things spoken
those things hoped
for the evidence
of things not seen—
seeing him,
and all his glory,
because this is who he is now.

No longer an urban prophet,
but an urban myth,
and like all myths—
they must be disproven

-JBHarris

The Death & Burial Of Kanye West-I

The opening of that
classic song says
‘nothing‘s ever promised tomorrow today’ that same energy
that kept us afloat
is now a millstone
around our her neck—
beckoning us to look
this way in that,
even though it hurts
our whole body
to do so.

looking at what
promise, privilege and power
does when at the core
the soul which was Black
is now White—
not by the washing of the Word
Or of the Blood,
but by the seeking of
validation of those who only know subjugation as power.

how ironic that villains of
This world whom prey on
The hungry desperate of power
Devoid of peace
seduce a prophet from
the midpoint of this
of these disjointed United States
to join into that dance
that is, and will always
call you nigg3r.

How befitting
he betrayed all that
he is all and he was—
with his mother already be dead?

how fitting it is
His father,
who he did say
he loved him so
can no longer be found
when he is in the throes
of what it means to be
Black and man
seeming to reject both!

at this time
in this space
and in this very place
at the time where 45
has been deep-sixed
that we may live again
to see 46
that he at age 45
be stuck between boy and man.

Wanting us all to follow him—
This Pied Piper forgetting
We know how that story ends;
betraying all that he is
all that his mother told him
all that the streets gave him—
drying tears opening doors,
to bestow title of genius!

Yet…we who demand accountability
who are alive and remain
to demand the better,
now we are now the problem…

and yet he wants us to not clap at his downfall

We already know the Chi town‘s finest ain’t always found on the mile.

-JBHarris

By Number

A Black woman died today.

The keepers of score say
Black women now leave
the planet at the
rate of one every 4.8 hours,
and there is one Black man
somewhere who will tell
multiple Black women
that we need to choose better.

Be softer.
Be more thankful you.
Less loud.
More quiet.
And do the thing
by which Black women
do best which is
handle life—
Even as it is thrown at them,
tossed at them,
or hit directly in their faces.

To be protector
of their predators
to be silent when
they should scream
and should lay down
and be taken because
that’s what we are
supposed to do.

To not bloom, but never plant.
Never ask but never fail to offer
but always be ready
to give over the any and everything—including body and mind.

And yet every 4.8 hours.
snatched.
Missing.
Found.

Mysteriously recovered
from ditches and streams
ravines, and washed up
on beaches
we are found… and yet unmissed.

We are missing, but never lost.
grieved, and yet never glorified
and yet we are told that our deaths
are lies and our lives misrepresented, unreported and should go with the territory of being
both woman and Black
because what did she really do to make him do her like that?

and yet…a Black woman died today.

-JBHarris, October 2022

This Pen

A girlfriend of mine
said that my pen
gave her life—

I took it to mean
Life was in my pen,
which means that
there is Legacy
attached to my name,
and the words
I write have to
be indeed in cursive
so people see
what I’m saying.

it is to this pen
I have dedicated
life and love
the luxury of time
and lack of sleep
heartbreak
and philosophy
that make Black girls
Black girls even
when they are Black women.

Due to this philosophy
to this ink-inspired divinity
I have given my all to,
strive to give my all to—
bending of language
breaking of rules
to give myself
the freedom my ancestors died over.

The ability to
tell my own story
like I want
when I want
whenever I want
Being light, heat and matches.

To this pen
I bequeath everything in me—
Give everything in me
push everything in me
So what is in me
May come out of me.

I mean you only go across
this grass one time
so I want to make sure that
I stomp all the way to
the grave leaving a paper trail
as long as the linen Hatshepsut
was wrapped in,
Legacy wrapped in story.

You can’t spell immortality without I.

-JBHarris, October 2022

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

Racism Killed Jackie Robinson

If Ms. Rachel Robinson ever sees this, we remember. We remember, Ms. Rachel.

42 is my birthdate backwards
just like it takes
four minutes for a man
to survive without oxygen
just like you have two hands
and one mouth so
you’re supposed to listen
twice as much as you speak
and you have 2 feet
and with the speed of the black panther played by a black panther,
gave us the immortality
that is number 42.

The husband of one woman,
the father to his own to his own son, and the leader ship and dignity of a people on broad black shoulders—
John Henry ain’t got nothing on Jack.

That Jack.
That Ebony, black Jack
Jack with the blue cap
with the B on it because
he knew he knew that the
baddest ones always come
from Brooklyn—

Be like the heart that
Was in his chest that
beat for us
that lifesblood
that came from every cut from
every slide
every name not his own
from from every sling
and arrow of
outrageous fortune
that he had to endure
in baseball cleats.

Just like the hands
that gripped bats,
that gripped pens
in order for him to
graduate from UCLA
in the 53 years that
he was able to walk
on 2 feet here
Head held high
like his mother Mallie
told him—

looking like
everything that we could
wish and hope for.

it was the invisible wall
that kept falling on him
that sped the clock faster
than his feet could
that took him from us
like wings of Eagles
that Isaiah talked about

and now in the shadow
of all things now,
and yet to come,
we remember,
and we would
also remember
what took him
we fight to not take us.

Racism killed Jackie Robinson.

-JBHarris, September 2022