Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Roger Bonair-Agard

Featured Poem:

How the Ghetto Loves Us Back

Enlarge poem

she wears yellow and royal blue
spandex down one leg
on the other a batty-rider
cut-off fleshy ass exposed
at its lowest corner
and rounding into excellence

this is how the ghetto loves us back

the matching top is a bikini
everything else falls into place
nose-ring attitude gum-popping
lips and nostrils flared
blue and yellow painted toenails
to remind us
this is no accident

women turn young children’s faces
into their ugly pastel skirts
lift their carefully coiffed heads
and sniff the air for judgment
older men shake their heads
in public disapproval or to hide
the beginnings of their own erections

young girls look on in awe
equal parts amazement envy and
I want to be like her when I grow up
at the obvious mystic power
of the high jiggling ass
the atmosphere is of festive ridicule

the most honest among us
the jobless and the laborers
hoot and holler from stoops and corners
shout at one another through windows
high above the streets
utter general and public
Goddamn(s)!
she ignores them all
except to once stop
fix her hair
while exaggeratedly cocking the generous hips
to one side

none of us able to get
what we think is her stench
off our hands
can’t cast our gazes away from her
as the scent grows stronger
rather than subsides
this ghetto scent
accentuated in the noonday heat
sweating up our palms
no less her pimps and molesters
no less her rapists
than whatever scarred the black back
of the exposed left thigh
than whatever strewed the crack vials
crunching under her heels
than whatever convinces her
to readjust the halter every 30 seconds

she fades into the bright white distance
and into our imaginations
past the grade schoolers
jumping rope and cussing
in front of the Shiloh Baptist Church of the Redeemer
past the corner where Shaqwan’s 13 year old blood
muddied up the sidewalk
past the four hair-dressing salons
the three take-out Chinese food restaurants
the two liquor-stores jeweled
with bullet-proof glass

and the stench is still with us
a nuclear mushroom-cloud
but this is just how the neighborhood smells

like gun metal and acid
and struggle
and gym shoes and struggle
and crabs in a barrel and struggle
and police cars
and little girls aspiring to video hair-dos
and struggle
and gentrification and struggle
and the armpits of the second racist mayor in a row
and struggle
and struggle
and struggle

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (1)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (1)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (1)

Comments

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Biography

Roger Bonair-Agard is a native of Trinidad and Tobago, a Cave Canem fellow and author of two collections of poetry, tarnish & masquerade (Cypher Books, 2006) and GULLY (Cypher Books, Peepal Tree Press, 2010).

He is co-author of a third collection, Burning Down the House (Soft Skull Press, 2000). An MFA candidate at the University of Southern Maine Stonecoast program, Roger is also a 2-time National Poetry Slam Champion and the co-founder and Artistic Director of the louderARTS Project. He is poet-in-residence at Young Chicago Authors and teaches at the Cook County Juvenile detention Center. He lives mostly in Chicago.

Roger Bonair-Agard

Biography

Roger Bonair-Agard is a native of Trinidad and Tobago, a Cave Canem fellow and author of two collections of poetry, tarnish & masquerade (Cypher Books, 2006) and GULLY (Cypher Books, Peepal Tree Press, 2010).

He is co-author of a third collection, Burning Down the House (Soft Skull Press, 2000). An MFA candidate at the University of Southern Maine Stonecoast program, Roger is also a 2-time National Poetry Slam Champion and the co-founder and Artistic Director of the louderARTS Project. He is poet-in-residence at Young Chicago Authors and teaches at the Cook County Juvenile detention Center. He lives mostly in Chicago.

Featured Poem:

How the Ghetto Loves Us Back

Enlarge poem

she wears yellow and royal blue
spandex down one leg
on the other a batty-rider
cut-off fleshy ass exposed
at its lowest corner
and rounding into excellence

this is how the ghetto loves us back

the matching top is a bikini
everything else falls into place
nose-ring attitude gum-popping
lips and nostrils flared
blue and yellow painted toenails
to remind us
this is no accident

women turn young children’s faces
into their ugly pastel skirts
lift their carefully coiffed heads
and sniff the air for judgment
older men shake their heads
in public disapproval or to hide
the beginnings of their own erections

young girls look on in awe
equal parts amazement envy and
I want to be like her when I grow up
at the obvious mystic power
of the high jiggling ass
the atmosphere is of festive ridicule

the most honest among us
the jobless and the laborers
hoot and holler from stoops and corners
shout at one another through windows
high above the streets
utter general and public
Goddamn(s)!
she ignores them all
except to once stop
fix her hair
while exaggeratedly cocking the generous hips
to one side

none of us able to get
what we think is her stench
off our hands
can’t cast our gazes away from her
as the scent grows stronger
rather than subsides
this ghetto scent
accentuated in the noonday heat
sweating up our palms
no less her pimps and molesters
no less her rapists
than whatever scarred the black back
of the exposed left thigh
than whatever strewed the crack vials
crunching under her heels
than whatever convinces her
to readjust the halter every 30 seconds

she fades into the bright white distance
and into our imaginations
past the grade schoolers
jumping rope and cussing
in front of the Shiloh Baptist Church of the Redeemer
past the corner where Shaqwan’s 13 year old blood
muddied up the sidewalk
past the four hair-dressing salons
the three take-out Chinese food restaurants
the two liquor-stores jeweled
with bullet-proof glass

and the stench is still with us
a nuclear mushroom-cloud
but this is just how the neighborhood smells

like gun metal and acid
and struggle
and gym shoes and struggle
and crabs in a barrel and struggle
and police cars
and little girls aspiring to video hair-dos
and struggle
and gentrification and struggle
and the armpits of the second racist mayor in a row
and struggle
and struggle
and struggle

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (1)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (1)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (1)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (1)

Comments

Your email address will not be published.