After Avery R. Young


Blk is not a country, but I live there
Where even the youngest call you baby.
Sometimes you ain’t we. Sometimes you is
Everybody. Washboard rains come. We
Open our mouths for a drink. Rather be radical
Than a fool. Oh and no,
We’re not interested in killing
White people or making them
Work. Matter of truth, some snorted
Cocaine until folk started calling it
White lady. Anyway, slavery is a bad idea.
The more you look like me, the more we
Agree. Sometimes you is everybody.
The blk mind is a continuous
Mind. There is a we. I am among them.
I am one of the ones. I belong. Oom boom
Ba boom. I live there where
We have a right to expect something of the brother.
Hooking and crooking or punching the clock:
It’s got to get done. That
Expectation. Stunning. Incantatory. Blk.
Power in our 24-hour
Barbershops. Power in the Stateville
Correctional Center. Power broke
Whether I have a car note or not.
Power under a quilt that won’t unravel, though
I never met the woman who sewed it
Or the woman for whom it was a gift
Before it finally came to me. The blk mind
Is a continuous mind. I am not a narrative
Form, but dammit if I don’t tell a story.
All land owned is land once stolen.
So the blues people of the world walk
On water. We will not die. Blk music.
Blk rage. Blk city of the soul
In a very cold town. Blk ice is ice you can’t see.

Jericho Brown is the author of The Tradition (Copper Canyon, 2019).

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