1. I wish I could put your voice in jar, wait for those lonely winter nights when I forget what God sounds like, run to the nearest maximum security prison and open it. Watch the notes that bounce off the walls like ricocheted bullets, punching keyholes into the sternums of every brother in the room, skeletons opening, rose blossom beautiful to remind you that the way to a black man’s heart is not through his stomach, it is through the heaven in your ‘hello’; the echo of unborn galaxies that pounces forth from your vocal cords, that melts ice grills into oceans, baptizing our lips, and so harsh words fade from our memories, and we forget why we stopped calling you
divine in the first place.
2. When I was born my mother’s smile was so bright, it knocked the air from my lungs, and I haven’t been able to breathe right since. It’s something about the way light dances off your teeth, the way the moon gets jealous when you mock her crescent figure with the shape of your mouth. Queen, you make the sky insecure, self-conscious for being forced to stare at your face every morning and realize that the blues of her skin was painted by that symphony doing cartwheels on your tongue.
3. Who else can make kings out of bastards, turn a fatherless Christmas into a floor full of gifts and a kitchen that smells like the Lord is coming tomorrow, and we must eat well tonight. I used to think my sister was a blacksmith, the way she baked fire and metal and made kitchen miracles at fourteen, making enough food to feed a little boy who didn’t have the words to say how much she meant to him back then, or enough backbone to say so the day he turned twenty.
4. Your skin reminds me of everything beautiful I have ever known: the colour of ink on a page, the earth we walk on and the cross that hung my Saviour.
5. I’ve seen you crucified too, spread out on billboards to be spiritually impaled by millions of men with eyes like nails, who
made mothers of your daughters; so I’m sorry for the music deals, for Justin Timberlake at the Superbowl, and that young
man on the corner this morning, who made you undershade your flesh and become invisible. Never doubt, he only insults you
because, men are confused. Now we are trained to destroy or conquer everything we see from birth.
6. If I ever see Don Imus in public I will punch him in the face, one time for every member of the Rutgers and Tennessee
Women Basketball Teams. Then I’ll show him a picture of Phylicia Rashad, Assata Shakur, Arthur Kit, my mother, my
grandmother and my seven-year-old niece, who’s got eyes like firebombs, and then dare him to tell me that black women are
only beautiful in one shade of skin.
7. You are like a sunrise in a nation at war; you remind people that there is always something worth waiting up to.
8. When we are married I will cook, do the dishes and whatever else it takes to let you know that traditional gender roles have no place in the home we build; so my last name is an option, babysitting the kids a treat we split equally, and our bed will be an ancient temple where I construct altars of wax on the small of your back. We make love like the sky is falling, moving to the rhythm of bed springs and Bell Biv DeVoe. Angels applauding in unison, saying this is the way it was meant to be.
9. My daughter will know her father’s face from the day she is born, and I can only pray that the superman complex lasts long enough for me deflect the pain this world will aim at her from the moment she is old enough to realize that the colour brown is still not considered human most places. But my daughter will have a smile like a wheelchair, and so even when I am at my worst, when the Kryptonite of this putrid planet threatens to render me grounded, the light dancing off of her teeth, will transform the shards of my broken body into heart-shaped blackbirds, taking flight on a wing that reminds me of my Saviour’s hands, my daughter’s smile, my mother’s laugh when I was in her womb.
Poem By Joshua Bennett
Photo Credit: Kgomotso Neto Tleane