By Tim’m West

I need my blackness close to me.
Snug tight like grandmama’s quilt on a chilly mid-morning.
Black like the sediment when smell it.
Black like the safety of quiet under eyelids
during some beautiful daydream.
or like the graying blacklady dreadlock goddess
glance at you on BART
cuz whitefolk’s kids are acting “typical”
and you are both grinding your teeth
underneath a polite smile, like:
“they so cute!”
when you know they bad asses
and kicking the back of your seat
and your trying sleep!
Real black like you or her gonna get if they don’t quit.
Like the lack of it you sense
across the bridge in that city
with the black mayor
but fewer and fewer and fewer
black people.
Black like our mayor here ain’t.
I need my blackness close to me.
Snug like the sunny smile I get from some
headwrapped sistah stridin’ round the lake.
Black like the undercurl of my napps.
Like the rhythmic way we speak and gesture and laugh.
I need my blackness close to me.
Like mirrors reflecting my black back to me
or the depth of my baritone poem
Like history ain’t in public schools.
Black like the inifinite universe
or like black art that has that scent and shine.
And like the ghetto girlz on the corner
That make your eyes roll back and tummy tight
cuz they look a mess and they babies
look worse
but they your peoples anyway
and this is Oakland
and the way you like it:
Snug    &nbspTight    &nbsp Black

This poem is printed under permission from the book Red Dirt Revival by Tim’m West.

Leave a Reply