Two Poems

Cover for Southern Exposure's Southern Black Utterances Today cover featuring a woodcut print of a Black man's face gazing upward, by Atlanta artist Lucious Hightower

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 3 No. 1, "Southern Black Utterances Today." Find more from that issue here.

The following article contains references to sexual assault. 



Breast nourish the

grass with innocence,

her Self cries out in


knowing she has fulfilled


Yet, not wanting to be touched by



Wet hair dries on


lips curse


   her body,

      her Mind . ..


Did father say love

goes w/ this,

Or did he say

Lust ……………….. ?


The hand covering her

mouth —


Warriors raped their enemy's "Property."


She made him bleed —


Meant for only "One."


"I'll kill you if-"


he kills her slowly,

he kills her silently . . .


Snake lies next to her

acknowledging their familiarity.


"They say we are friends. . ."

it coils in darkness,

she crawls in light.


"Mama, you used to tell me

   free birds fly South,

      but prized birds are caged."


Clara Bell


run, run,

   goes Clara Bell

      with her laughter

         in accordance with my own.

quick, quick, yes her mind is not at home.


cry, cry

   goes Clara Bell

      weeping, looking for sympathy,

         cries like a spirit moans,

sad, sad, but her mind is not at home.


play, play

   goes Clara Bell

      laughing with what she says

         by putting it into a lighter tone,

funny, funny, but her mind is not at home.


sleep, sleep

   goes Clara Bell

      screams a many at times,

         can't leave her here alone,

dreams, dreams, but her mind is not at home.


sing, sing

   goes Clara Bell

      with a different melody

         this one called "Joan.”

sweet, sweet, but her mind is not at home.


eat, eat

   goes Clara Bell

       smacking her blazing red lips

         then throwing away the bones,

delicious, delicious, but her mind is not at home.


hear, hear

   goes Clara Bell

      listening to the mocking bird's

        songs she has always known,

sounds, sounds, but her mind is not at home.


lost, lost

   goes Clara Bell

      hidden in this large world

         where has Clara Bell gone?

look, look, but her mind is not at home.


crazy, crazy

   is my Clara Bell.

      where has her mind gone?

         I just don't know.

poor, poor Clara Bell, her mind is not at home.