by Shaina Monet
ya mama poem
ya mama so tame, she a white lady.
thinking and talking like that smacks
a black girl in the face—her signals
ya mama so beat, she talks in her sleep—
reaps without tears or tearing material
things—costs more than blood, or black
girls or mud.
ya mama so dull, she still keeps a bible in her
purse—telling you the worst in her mind
a knife or thirst for deflection. a catechism
you’ll master. repeat.
ya mama so wack, she snaps. if you act up
or get down, she’ll tell you even the whites
of their eyes might watch for you to slip—use
anything as excuse to load clip into brow
and—history. ya mama so neat, she won’t
wipe after police (drain the blood and shit
from your body) nor for the coroner performing
autopsy. turvy—ya mama so mental, she knows
when and what will happen to you and your friends
at any given moment given by those yet to woo
with bullet in brain.
yeah—ya mama so old, she lame. who thinks
twice about masking? coding, un-masking—
anything in this world—it costs her.
for my maternal grandmother, Alpha Mae Harness Stanford, and daughters
the eye, so like a sun
beam, could swipe over a face
ripe and split it open.
your granddaughter’s daydreaming. this
time: the night the car crashed into another
story—much like the one when
your cousin thrashed out the back
of a pickup in Magnolia
some eighty odd years ago.
next: the endothelium’s failing.
yes, the sun can strike harder
than a fist. remember this. each eye
grew (after necessary surgeries done)
not young, nor very resilient,
resin coats us—our kin.
in the worst of weather,
leaves amber—seeds in wind.
often that summer we’re buried
bitter with leaves.
Winner of the 2018 Iowa Review Award in poetry, Shaina Monet is a New Orleans native, a Pushcart-nominated poet, a 2018 Best of the Net nominee, and a former poetry editor at Bayou Magazine. In print, her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Yemassee Journal, and The Iowa Review. She tweets @shainamonet.