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. http://www.reneebess.com
Photo credit, Mary Deutcher, photographer