Tag: Poetry Matters

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

Final Reflection

This year was introspective for me.

I was forced to think about things I was scared to, while making room for myself. I think the presumption is poets will have this never-empty, never-ending reservoir to soothe or settle those that read our thoughts.

I’m always humbled for it by anyone who reads my work or is inspired by it. Sometimes the wells we pull from for others, are dug by our own hands–watered by own tears!

Yet, we write.

We create.

We serve. Make no mistake: a poet is a servant. Perhaps this is why Baldwin said it is a horrible tragedy when a nation ceases to produce poets.

The poet remembers what everyone else forgets—and gives light when all is lost. On this, perhaps, hangs humanity.

30 Days Of Jaye – Day 25: When She Will Not Care

She will desire peace at the

Cost of war

Being both prisoner and soldier

Believing if she fought harder

Bleed more

And denied her own

Thirst for more

Hunger for justice

and sight for more

Then she will be enough

When her body no longer

Blushes with your coming

Has peace with your going

And all love becomes an act.

The weapons of he warfare

Time, body energy

Have been taken as spoils

And she will do all allowed

To pull herself back together

Your touch no longer soothes.

The heat that was there has


With the turning of

Her head…the love is dead.

she will put self above love—

and nothing else will matter

JBHarris, 11.20.20

30 Days Of Jaye – Day 24: Honey & Vinegar

I want to spit

Remembering every time

I told you that I loved you—

every time

I kissed you

every time

I close my eyes

to remind myself

of what peace

and love look like.

in the middle of hurricane wind

and hellfire knowing that

the desire you had for me

was only contingent

on “how quiet I would be”…

reliance fiercely on what

you knew I would become

because I would become

anything…for you.

because I was you, was a part of you.

because I would’ve was a part of you

I could not be without you

and now that the hurricane is over,

and the winds have gone

and the sun has come.

I want to spit

every time

I think of how deeply

I loved you

—-and meant it

-JBH, 12.8.2020

30 Days Of Jaye – Day 23: Ghosts

What do I do

Now when what you

Left me with

Haunts me…

And with all resolve

As faith gives

I send it back to


The love was mine—this is mine.

I give this back to you!

I will not leave you to rest!

When it calls to you

from the depths of

what you thought

was dead

to quicken you

with kisses warm

and love a deep

reminding you of just

what you held on

for the glimpses of

future hidden in

past if I were

To just give you

more time

“You know

I love you

You know

she cannot be

what you are to me…”

Wait for me

you are my heart

love of my life…

there’s a chance

wake me from

summer willing my heart

to start all over again

so the wedding

won’t be so hard

this time perhaps

-JBHarris, July 2021

30 Days Of Jaye – Day 20: Why Is He Free?

Written after the attempted murder/lynching of 16 y/o Ralph Yarl by 84 y/o Andrew Lester in the KCMO area. He shot Ralph bc he knocked on his door to pick up his siblings on 4/16-17.

It was the wrong door.

Shaun King brought attention to this incident and he is now arrested.

Our own domestic terrorism

Being product of our

Own capture

When those who

Bought us–have no more use for us.

When “Black and” is

Weapon and warning

While the weapon of our

Most current warfare,

Is not of this world nor

The principalities therein.

We are sheep among wolves.

Rabbits outrunning foxes.

Finding our own funds

Making our own guns

To make sure no White Knight

Enters our Black Day

Because we really want to know–

Why is he free,

And I am not?

-JBHarris, 4.18.23