Ntozake Shange

(October 18, 1948 / Trenton, New Jersey)

People of Watts


where we come from, sometimes, beauty
floats around us like clouds
the way leaves rustle in the breeze
and cornbread and barbecue swing out the backdoor
and tease all our senses as the sun goes down.

dreams and memories rest by fences
Texas accents rev up like our engines
customized sparkling powerful as the arms
that hold us tightly black n fragrant
reminding us that once we slept and loved
to the scents of magnolia and frangipani
once when we looked toward the skies
we could see something as lovely as our children's
smiles white n glistenin' clear of fear or shame
young girls in braids as precious as gold
find out that sex is not just bein' touched
but in the swing of their hips the light fallin cross
a softbrown cheek or the movement of a mere finger
to a lip many lips inviting kisses southern
and hip as any one lanky brother in the heat
of a laid back sunday rich as a big mama still
in love with the idea of love how we play at lovin'
even riskin' all common sense cause we are as fantastical
as any chimera or magical flowers where breasts entice
and disguise the racing pounding of our hearts
as the music that we are
hard core blues low bass voices crooning
straight outta Compton melodies so pretty
they nasty cruising the Harbor Freeway
blowin' kisses to strangers who won't be for long
singing ourselves to ourselves Mamie Khalid Sharita
Bessie Jock Tookie MaiMai Cosmic Man Mr. Man
Keemah and all the rest seriously courtin'
rappin' a English we make up as we go along
turnin' nouns into verbs braids into crowns
and always fetchin' dreams from a horizon
strewn with bones and flesh of those of us
who didn't make it whose smiles and deep
dark eyes help us to continue to see
there's so much life here.

Submitted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Edited: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

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