She would be king. A bawse among bosses. There is no common ground. She cares not for the origins of others who came before her. Perfection defines her. I can't make this up. When I'm before her, I feel as if I'm on foreign soil. My soul looks back on what we were before the coronation. I remember the fear killing my black body. I remember her coldness. When she was crowned, she was the hope of the nation. Our father left & he never came back. His absence changed her. Nine years under the crown & I see her beast side. We will always be sisters, children of blood & bone. You don't have to say you love me.
A Year in the Open City
Spent in hunger
looking for freedom
avoiding the shuffle
of black ink & red victims
in blue states where
old reservations decay
on the outskirts, seeing
how it all went down
This is an elegy to asphalt
cracked & gutted, stripped
of its smoothness from years
Let us pray for tar, hot & melting
against old rocks, chipped & broken
like our lives, robbed of innocence
& youthful zeal. Bodies neglected.
The wind is in my face. Cold & nonjudgmental,
slapping away my desperation. Need
is a greedy thing. I am thirsty for escape
as I check my side mirrors.
The windows are eyes
that follow me as I go by, glinting
in the sunlight. They're suspicious
of me. My skin color is a crime.
Freedom is an exit ramp. A route
not highlighted by GPS. A blur of words.
Siri ignores the detour. My hands sweat
against the steering wheel. An urgency.
Morning gives way to evening. Stars peep
my progress on the highway. Twilight
closes the windows' eyes. I drive on.
My destination is self-preservation.
A place where I can to live.
"My name is Shirley Jones-Luke, a poet and writer from Boston, Massachusetts. I have an MFA from Emerson College and have attended workshops at Breadloaf, Tin House and VONA."