ya mama poem & Delta

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

 

double-crossing.

 

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

 

the second

 

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.

 

 

Delta

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.

 

Alpha,

 

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)

cloudy, blue.

 

Alpha,

 

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.