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




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.




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)

cloudy, blue.




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.