Even More Poems for National Poetry Month

We’re livin’ for the soul food cheffed up by some of our favorite poets.


By Taiia Smart Young

We’re livin’ for the soul food cheffed up by some of our favorite poets during National Poetry Month. These poems teach you how to move your hips on Salsa Sundays, understand blues borrowed from Nina Simone’s playbook, hold onto everything in the eye of the storm and work out your love-hate issues with Cardi B. We’re definitely here for the Bardi Gang. Get into these nouns and verbs.

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I Was Born the Year Otra Nota Was Released, or Salsa on Sundays
 Noel Quiñones

The vacuum muffles his voice
yet prayer. My mother’s hips a record
as the air absolves itself before her.
Yes, I use to scowl at god.
I could not master his rhythm
but I memorized her, the güiro
buried in her wrists. The scratch
of palms into hardwood becomes
the joy I clean my house with.
Missteps are only a tragedy if you do not
arrive on time. Mami is the matron
of the clock, a birth that follows no lead.
I am the echo of a party only
she can throw. You thought we came
to dance. No, she came to gather
her husband from the dance floor.
The one you can’t pronounce.
Yes, it has always been Noel.
Dirty praise, elbows at the altar,
nine album sleeves across the dash.
She knows who we are but do you?
The house is clean because she taught you
how to dance. There is no other way
to say I love you.

Everybody loves Cardi B But
Elizabet Velasquez

only if she speak good
only if she made it despite speaking bad
only if our daughters don’t admire her
only if we can listen to her album on code switch
only if she gets woke
only if she makes us laugh
only if we pretend she’s never cried
only if we can intellectualize the hood
only if we can point fingers at her and not patriarchy
only if we know words like patriarchy
only if we know how we are oppressed
only if we don’t talk about how we are oppressing
only if we got a good job
only if we made better decisions than she did
only if people follow us for the right reasons
only if our poems sound like dissertations
only if our poems speak good
only if our poems make it despite speaking bad
only if our trauma has graduated college
only if she doesn’t remind us of what we were told not to be
only if she doesn’t remind us of what we’ve survived

Raise Your Vibration
J. Ivy

I dove in with a grin,
Bumped my chin,
Scraped my knee,
Earned my scars,
Pray for me,
You’re such a blessing,
I’m wrestling with thought,
Trying to pen something to the pad,
The mat,
The fat was trimmed but grew back,
I went against the grain and my instinct said,
“I told you not to do that,”
I knew that,
This that boom-bat,
“Didn’t you feel your stomach churn?”
Burn like reflux,
I make mistakes than lose trust,
Stagnate is my magnet when my thoughts are tragic,
When I’m clear,
I steer clear of the fear I hear,
You hear that,
Sounds like a dream come true,
Refreshing like when dreams come to you,
And reveal themselves in a song,
A poem,
Straighten you out like a hot comb,
A perm,
New lessons help us unlearn our ignorance,
Each moment is significant but we take them for granted,
I’m trying to rebuild the damage,
Bridge the gap,
Tap into the source,
Breathe through,
Breeze through my course,
What board is this?
What’s the mission?
What’s the plan?
It’s us against the damned,
But damn, they winning,
They think they winning,
You ain’t winning!!
Trying to hypnotize us with their lies,
Wake up,
Open your eyes,
Stretch your soul,
Connect with the role you were put here to play,
Look in their barrels and dare ‘em to spray,
We bulletproof,
Who let the bullets loose?
You can’t strike us all down,
We hurt but we ain’t all in the ground,
Each death fertilizes our spirit,
Our growth,
Our hope,
Our hearts still pound like the first drum played,
We birth civilizations like the first love made,
Oooh, it feels so good,
Just like I knew it would,
I’m back to meeting my neighbors in the hood,
Back to looking to the stars,
Looking into to hearts,
We all been detecting change,
A shift,
A tilt in the axis,
Like a close call,
It’s no accident,
Something’s happening,
Feel that,
Something’s happening,
I’m babbling…
Have you found yours?
Ignored yours?
You getting the itch to explore more,
Open more doors,
Peek in,
I’m seeking peace,
To the East my brother to the East,
I’m from a X-Clan,
Finishing these moves so I can move to the next plan,
I’m plotting,
Yes, I get in popping,
I pop in so our light can intertwine and dance between minds,
Hands opened wide,
I’m catching feelings,
Oooh, I got that spirit,
Can’t you hear it?
Yeah you hear it…
They fear it when we get here,
When we get up there,
When we climb those stairs,
When we scale the air,
When we breathe without stress,
We forget how blessed we are,
We’ve come far, but not far enough,
I look in the mirror and ask myself,
“What you go do in the clutch?”
I’m breaking the cuss,
Pushing pass the cusp,
Pay attention to what they doing to us,
Clarity is a must,
Habits come calling,
In the eye of the storm,
I’m holding on to everything that’s calming,
The fight is exhausting,
Thank God I ain’t lost it,
I stay praying to him,
Time to get back in the gym,
Back on the pen,
Working it out,
Cause I know it’s go all work out in the end,
Why pretend like it ain’t?
You think things go defeat you,
But they can’t,
You stronger than that,
I’m stronger than that,
I done stood on mine,
Ain’t no turning back,
All I got is my word,
These words,
These conversations,
Let ‘em be heard in your nerves,
Dig in your reserves,
And let’s raise our vibration,
Let’s raise our vibration…

Mahogany Browne

I wish I knew how

It would feel to be free

I wish I could break

All the chains holding me —Nina Simone

today i am a black woman in america

& i am singing a melody ridden lullaby

it sounds like:

the gentrification of a brooklyn stoop

the rent raised three times my wages

the bodega and laundromat burned down on the corner

the people on the corner

each lock & key their chromosomes

a note of ash & inquiry on their tongues

today i am a black woman in a hopeless state

i will apply for financial aid and food stamps

with the same mouth i spit poems from

i will ask the angels of a creative god to lessen

the blows

& i will beg for forgiveness when i curse

the rising sun

today, i am a black woman in a body of coal

i am always burning and no one knows my name

i am a nameless fury, i am a blues scratched from

the throat of ms. nina—i am always angry

i am always a bumble hive of hello

i love like this too loudly, my neighbors

think i am an unforgiving bitter

sometimes, i think my neighbors are right

most times i think my neighbors are nosey

today, i am a cold country, a storm

brewing, a heat wave of a woman wearing

red pumps to the funeral of my ex-lover’s

today, i am a woman, a brown and black &

brew woman dreaming of freedom

today, i am a mother, & my country is burning

and i forget how to flee

from such a flamboyant backdraft

—i’m too in awe of how beautiful i look

on fire

Grab a copy of  The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic, edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds and Jamila Woods


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