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.

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

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.




  1. Renee,
    You clearly don’t need that “formal training in writing poetry.” Your life must have trained you!
    This is suberb!


  2. I can’t think of better words so I’ll just repeat Sacchi’s – powerful and beautiful. And add profound.
    Thank you


  3. Thanks, Patty. There are times when profoundly good or profoundly bad events demand the brevity of a poem.


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