The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2022

All Issues
OCT 2022 Issue


Possibly for Nari, possibly not

The valise is empty—art
Presents negation—an open circle,
Slashed canvas, a wound in sheep’s
Hide. Foot on malleable ground

Valise empty—art presents negation
Symbolic suffering lean against space
Active void.                                                         Footfalls, running steps,
Tippy toes through the muck of murdered
One way or another
Somewhere            MAYBE
The lights will “give” a little
Maybe the people will be kind

Unlikely choreography, a dance around
These massive symbols of displace    ment. Old clothes
Old shoes, old cut up bags-stripes remade soon sold
The artist profits

No the artist witnesses

A magnified drum of feet in motion, the beat bends
The props enfolds the vision, stocks the artist’s heart

Something’s in the air

Boys keep running into and out of the Deli,
Pointing and laughing, not a loud laughter but the muffled
Conspiring kind—something’s in the air, the heat July
The boys energized gestures, even the old men
Join them and then as I walk through the portal
A fat Black woman, her breasts the size of small melons
walks up Washington Avenue, for once, an apt analogy.
She is bristling, her speech barely audible, her half-
Nakedness is as loud as the high temperature.
Where did she come from, where is she going?
Her large feet march slowly towards Lincoln Place
The boys are yelling—some call her crazy
But not one calls her bitch,
Her bare breasts, her nappy head, her shoeless feet
Her raging sweat—she is this day’s mean heat
She’s a walking excavation of hurt. The boys
Bike away, amplifying the atmosphere with mute
Gestures, their laughter. Again, the naming
As she moves shirtless and shoeless sweat screaming.
We know some of her anger. We see her shamelessness.
Some call her crazy. Some gesture the shape of her breasts.
But no one, not one boy calls her, bitch.


Patricia Spears Jones

Patricia Spears Jones is an African-American poet, playwright, writer and cultural activist. Her fifth full-length collection, The Beloved Community, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press and A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press) continues to find readers around the globe.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2022

All Issues