While I acknowledge my lack of formal training in writing poetry, please know that Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, W.H. Auden, Carolyn Rodgers, June Jordan, and Cheryl Clarke showed me a poem can do whatever it pleases.


There’s always a flipside.

Part A backed by Part B.   motown record 2

Is this for the sake of symmetry

or simply humanity’s

refusal to hold close that which is just?


And yes, this is personal,

because poems often are.

And yes, this is political,

because poems can be activists

marching words through the streets,

chanting syllables against the flipsides of

Lilly Leadbetter, prison reform,

marriage equality, tolerance for all the newcomers,

and the little boys who reached for Obama’s hair.


For God’s sake, send no one back.

Although back means cities, towns, streets where we played,

were schooled, fell in love,

and breathed this country’s air,

polluted or not.


Instead, bring the flipsides frontward.

Introduce them to hue-manity and compassion.


Every “Drive”  has its “Reverse,”

and the hopes that once lifted us                                  crying child at border

now lay dispersed,

drifting among the ashes of hatred and cowardice.


We must flip the flipside

and replay Side A!



© Renée Bess,    August, 2019   Written as Toni Morrison rests somberly on my  mind.

Renée Bess is the author of five novels and the co-story collector of the Goldie Award winning anthology, OUR HAPPY HOURS, LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS, (2018.) She  won an Alice B. Readers Award (2019,) for the body of her work.

conference photo (2)                                          Photo credit, Mary Deutcher, photographer




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s