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Tag: @yonaharvey

That

I grew up with pickles. I slept in

the attic (cigarettes, sheets laced with

smoke). The heat of my father’s

brother’s old room. Larry Blackmon

painted for effect & Chaka Khan’s lips

more like a kiss if a kiss could walk

when it came to life. If a kiss

could have hips & legs & ass—

well, I wanted that.

& if the colors could sweat & strip

me down to my slip, well,

I wanted that, too. Nobody knew

what I was thinking up there.

Though, maybe, they wanted that. That.

from You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for LoveFind more by Yona Harvey at the library

Copyright © 2020 Yona Harvey
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Necessarily

after Gwendolyn Brooks

She’s got a hundred & two temperature,

delivery room nurses said. You’re

gonna live, though—long enough

to know you’re going

to go as quickly as you came, gonna

make your mother swear by you, going to

shake your Bible with red-tipped nails

before you vanish

into Chicago South Side skies that bleed—

not like watercolor, not like a wound, not

like a fat, bitten plum—not necessarily.

No, not necessarily.

Nothing that precious or predictable. Speak

nicely to others & they will nicely

speak to you, your mother said.

No, not so, you said fairly

close to the end. No time to wait for mother’s

ride home or for saviors, coming soon.

from You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for LoveFind more by Yona Harvey at the library

Copyright © 2020 Yona Harvey
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Hush Harbor

Charleston, South Carolina

1.

“What does it mean to see a black church burn?”

bear’s breech, bluestar

and, furthermore, I buried my sister

hushed, white roses

&, furthermore, I buried my lover

and, anyway, he never said, “forgive”

June-yanked yarrow

barrenwort creeps

Mary, don’t you weep, oh, Mary

2.

and, furthermore, we buried our mother

bugbane, bee balm

“What does it mean to see a black church burn?”

up Calhoun Street,

up Ravenel Bridge

And who among us speaks for us all, not

me, too simple,

too soon to say

just what I feel when black churches

3.

burn, the door closing, burn, & furthermore,

black-eyed Susan

And, furthermore, we buried our father

June-snatched yarrow

hens & chickens, rosettas between rock

the hell that crept through our door of ages

Jerusalem

Sage, Lavender

Cotton, Coreopsis corners

4.

And, furthermore, I buried my grandson

Bearded Iris

What does it mean when our black blood turns? Lamb’s

Ear, Texas Sage

False Red Yucca, swat moths away, sinners

and sin. Must we always invite them in?

False Indigo

Gayfeather, Thrift

Must we always invite them in?

5.

And, furthermore, I buried my anguish

Coronation

Gold in my palms after rain, & further-

more, Violet

What does it mean when we memorize Psalms

Or “stand in the way that sinners take,” or

Umbrella Sedge

Joe-Pye Weed

Or, sparrow over sycamore

6.

Forget-me-not, Father, forget-me-not

Mother, forget

me not, Saints. For You created my in-

most being, You

knit me together in my mother’s womb

And, furthermore, I buried my husband

Bamboo, Goutweed

Evening Primrose

Mother don’t you weep, Mother, don’t

7.

moan & Plantain Lily, widen your shawl

Solomon’s Seal

before you tighten it, Come by here, Lord

Come by here, Lord

What does it mean when our suffering returns?

twofold, threefold, fourfold, ten—& if they

turn, let us shout

let us shout, Saints

What shall we shout when our suffering

8.

returns? If they can burn a cross, they can—

Lady’s Mantle

burn a church. If they can burn a church, they

can burn Coral

Bells. If they can burn Coral Bells, they can—

one bullet, two bullet, ten bullet, more

hushed white roses

Baby’s Breath, Prick-

ly Pear. I lack nothing.

9.

Blood on a church pew like Snow in Summer

Dutch Iris, Dead

Nettle, Baby’s Breath

Delphinium,

Queen Anne’s Lace. I lack

nothing. I shall not

I shall not

shovel winter

snow. No blood on pews,

nor floors, nor stairs at summer’s door.

from You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for LoveFind more by Yona Harvey at the library

Copyright © 2020 Yona Harvey
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

“I worked hard so my girls didn’t have to serve nobody else like I did except God”

after Elizabeth Clark-Lewis

Candy-colored bulbs frame a girl for a holiday.

If the wicked call from the other side, she doesn’t hear. Blinds shut. Devices

blink & twitter. Before it’s too late, her mother snaps a picture—anticipates

angst & oddly angled aches, strawberry letters. “Whatevers.”

The mother will mark the photo tomorrow. Sign. Seal. “We’re all well!”

—one of the last acceptable print messages. Meanwhile, “Soup

for dinner, again?” What else? It’s winter. Herbal constellations swivel in froth. Stir.

She samples with a lean near bowing. Steam on closed eyelids.

Mothers ought to give thanks.

Simeon, she thinks instead, & then: her long-gone grandmother’s

tattered Bible, the daughter’s overdue library book

concerning States’ rights. Why’s that? She’s hardly felt

hated. X’s & O’s glow in the daughter’s palm Look

how easy, the daughter often says. She is patient with her mother. Blessed

be the child at the center of snow & flu season. She flew past

blessings long ago. So far from a little girl, really.

from You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for LoveFind more by Yona Harvey at the library

Copyright © 2020 Yona-Harvey
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Segregation Continuum

after Ella Baker & Glenn Lignon

layered in black on black on white canvas

we who believe in freedom cannot rest

looking at the way we look looking forward

stepping back by way of upturned neck by way

of three steps back looking black coded by way

of black modes by way of reconstruction by way

of insurrection by way of colored fountains by way

of elected democrats or elected aristocrats

it is obvious we are a presence

though we have been discomforted

at school gates at rental offices at museum entrances

even we cannot rest who believe in freedom

we are to some an irritant an ire some tire some lot

we do not subscribe just because something comes

out of a leader’s mouth out of the mouth of a tyrant

so we are too difficult we are much too difficult

we are much too aware we are much too marked

we are all that matter to us that matter

we are the most comforting presence by way of

nod by way of pound by way of sup

we are always fashionable when we do not try

we do not try to insult except when we do

but we do not hesitate to speak of the things

about which we agree or disagree we participate

at the level of our thinking by way of our thinking

by way of our mass expression

we who believe in freedom cannot rest

where once hundreds & even thousands of we

ordinary people had taken a position—that made us—

very uncomfortable when we decided for instance

to walk rather than take the bus

from You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for LoveFind more by Yona Harvey at the library

Copyright © 2020 Yona Harvey
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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