“I am sick of writing this poem / but bring the boy. his new name / his same old body. ordinary, black / dead thing. bring him & we will mourn / until we forget what we are mourning / & isn’t that what being black is about?”
- Danez Smith, not an elegy for Mike Brown
Adrianne Embry is a native of the Far Eastside of Indianapolis. She is currently attending Indiana University where she will be receiving her bachelor's degree in theatre in the fall. Adrianne is one of the founders and co-presidents of Indiana University’s Black Brown & Beige Theatre Troupe. She was also a co-host for the Bloomington Poetry Slam.
Welcome to the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Adrianne, what poems have you brought for us today?
The Danger of My Kin
There are black boys who find their bodies invincible
And they too will bleed
There will be black bodies missing from the Sunday
Dinner table black holes placed in remembrance of them
Those in attendance, like the black boy, will bleed too
Ain’t nobody safe ‘round here.
We all being taken somewhere blacker with the boys
Blacker as in the absence of everything
Not as in our cookouts Ricky missed
Blacker as in the absence of your cousin
Blacker as in bloodied sneakers…the fresh ones too
You know the uncreased Air Jordan 32’s
Blacker as in that last biscuit covered in honey
Every year at the family reunion the list gets longer
There seems to be more ghost than bodies now
And ain’t that just the blackest thing?
Ain’t that just what we used to?
The Color Purple
We all know Teresa mad again.
Didn’t we stand there watching
Waiting for a storm to occur?
Don’t you hear her crashing bones
between her teeth?
At least she gave us a calm before it occured.
We were able to watch from balcony and car.
Safe. Undrenched from her wet.
Teresa real magic. Black girl magic.
Black girl make it rain. She help quench the dry
soil that’s smothering her kin. She turn daylight
Purple. She makes the sky sing.
I am lavishly sippin on Moscato as I write this
My fingers are dipped into the honey on my sweet butter biscuits
My homie is braiding my hair, Badu playing in the back
Going on and on with her voice drenched in honey
She making me feel pretty about my black
My 4C hair trickles to my naked brown shoulders
It drips from me onto the floor
I am arguing with everyone with a mouth full or warm biscuits
The good kind too All hot and golden
My mouth is too full of beauty to lie
I tell them Lil Mike do look like a milk dud though
We pause in time here. Finally, we safe and laughing.
The moment continues
a body goes missing.
A swarm of bees is weighing down the pink of petals
finally pollinating in peace and the world is still revolving.
They are passing our sun kissed ankles and shoulders.
No one is screaming or swatting or stomping
They are allowed to live in peace.
How lucky my people would be to be bees.
It’s easier for white skin to recognize these insects as docile unless provoked.
My people are viewed stinger first. As threat.
You know black people always provoked.
I am receiving more looks of caution than the swarm neighboring me.
They walk closer to the bees than me.
I feel them though. They only sting when provoked.
You know they don’t provoke the damn bees.
Something is off.
Maybe they’re calm around bees because in winter they’ll die off.
Maybe what makes bees and black people different to them is resiliency.
They study and protect them.
They scrutinize, stomp, and spit at us.
They want us to be bees.
They want it always to be winter.
They want our black bodies turned to blue then dropped.
Decayed before we even hit the wet earth.
They want my people to be bees in exchange for a Summer of peace.
In exchanged, come winter, our wings will be clipped.
Brown skin falling like snow.
You've been listening to the poems of Adrianne Embry on the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.