Tag: Black poets matter

The Immovable Trinity

Day-jobbing and listening to MasterClass:

Never think that this gift I have is not demanding. I have leaned into this gift, succumbed to the demand of it.

It is the best restlessness.

It is the most intimate of imagining.

Yet, I am keenly aware, what I do—

Black woman writer
Writer, Black and woman
Woman whom is Black and writer. —

Is an immovable, immutable trinity.

For such designations, I write.

I persevere and preserve.
I remember and reckon.

I reimagine.

-JBHarris, December 2022

SisterKeeper

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

somewhere

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.

From The Crates: Black Writer Poem (August 2022)

They would’ve killed me for what I do now.

the knowledge of the Bible

read, both in person

and on paper

with ink being

the same color as blood

before the fire of oxygen

hits it–

They would’ve killed me for what I do now.

Tongue cut out

hung from trees

as a warning–

as the barbaric English forced

On my ancestors

but demands your English

Be my first language.

When I first was able

to communicate pain

Or how I call my mother

how I wait for my father

it is always been words

that have kept me,

Yet at the same time

I have kept them–

I have grasp them

hold them tightly in

my dominant right hand–

subduing the same language

which has always yielded

strange fruit.

They would have killed me for what I do now.

-JBHarris, August 2022

My Sister’s Keeper (Pt. 2): This Is Not The Time

TW: Transphobia

I do not agree with the accusation of the assailant of the Shanquella being labeled as a ‘man in a wig.’ Or immediately being classified as a Black transwoman.

So often Black women are classified as masculine! Our bodies are ridiculed, only to be mimicked. Black women have meet incredible standards to even be considered feminine, or the ever elusive ‘pretty’. In the forefront of this tragedy is this burgeoning transphobia, and anti-trans sentiment!

No. No, we are not about to do this!

The fact is Shanquella is dead, and the people who she traveled with are responsible! Yet, homophobia is never late! It is never late, never failing to be out of place! What needs to be added in this conversation is how easy sometimes Black women will not examine their own inner circles, but will always seek out ‘the other’ to determine who/where the enemy is.

It can’t be the women in my circle whom are capable of this, but a transwoman would because they are not real women!

No. Not here. Not ever. Not never ever.

Let me say this: I am a cis-het Black woman. I have never looked in the mirror and thought, ‘None of this [heart, body, mind, spirit] is right! I can lend sympathy and empathy to transpeople. And as a woman, I can respect women (cis/trans), and only ask for that respect in return.

This situation has nothing to do with transwomen.

Transwomen are not the enemy. I repeat: transwomen are not the enemy, and should not be the focus in this discussion! The focus needs to remain on Shanquella, and why her ‘friends’ got her in another country, (allegedly) murdered her, and lied to her mother about her cause of death!

If anything, this situation forces us as Black women to look at our own circles! We have to examine who is there and why people are there. Then, be brave enough to make them leave!

There are Black women who say this situation is not, should not be compared to what happened to Kenneka Jenkins. But, I offer to you that it can.

Both young women trusted people whom could not keep them safe, look out for them, or even had the base level care most Black women have been taught to have for one another. And for that misplacement of trust, they are dead.

The remaining questions I have is:

Who really looks for Black women and girls except other Black women and girls?

If Black women have no trust among each other, then were can Black women have it

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

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

New Book: Sweethearts & Love Notes

To grab this book on Amazon or Kindle, click here.

I have written fast before, but this? This book poured out of me.

Through the lack of social media, and the uncanny nature of my own life, I have found my childhood sweetheart. For respect, I won’t give his name here, but he knows this book exists.

If you know you know.

I have not seen him in 21 years, and yet he remembers the last thing I wore, and I saw him before he saw me.

I all but ran to him. Hugged him. And the world fell away. No, that is not an exaggeration.

For those feelings, for the power of that connection, I wrote! In being transparent, this was the man I thought I would marry.

There are attributes of this connection I have looked for in other relationships–to this day (I mean #ForeverBae plays Poker AND Chess!)!

This chap book is a reminder to me that…maybe I am still a love poet after all. As and maybe (just maybe) this is a reminder to younger me that I wasn’t crazy–and neither was he.

The butterflies were real and still are.

Favorite pieces:

Love Note #3

Hymnals

When Beale Street Talks

To The First Work

Being a love poet, during social change is interesting. As you confront things around you which need, love, accountability, and justice… There is something in you that is overjoyed when you can be reconciled to that first work: love.

Knowing people that you care for sale in the world, that they are well, and that life has treated them well so far. Perhaps that is the justice of being a love poet… Love will always be your light, heat, and smoke. 

-JBH, November 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

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