In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.

I. Plantation Tour (One Star!)

“Vacationers have been sharing their disdain
for guides emphasizing the annals of slavery.”

Let me tell you, what I didn’t need,
Cher Guilt-instilling Know-it-all,

Was a boring-as-sawdust lecture at Belle Fleur
About the bone-breaking perils of slavery!

FYI, Miss Firebrand Liberal,
It wasn’t all that bad: I’ve heard

Plantation slaves often sang happily
While collecting cotton—

Look, I can’t possibly be racist because—
Get it!—I’m Sicilian-American: see,

My people never enslaved anybody!


II. My Black Friend

is dark-hued as Mississippi Delta Blues,
Black as a chain gang at nightfall—

He’s cool; he’s no fist-raised radical:
It’s no heavy bead of sweat, I swear,

If I touch his nappy hair
Or blunder & use the N word;

I could even whistle “Dixie”
& I’m sure my boy Leroy

Wouldn’t bat an eye—
Despite the full-time mumbo jumbo

About Ebony vs. Ivory clashes, fisticuffs,
Myself, I don’t really see color—

My handy-dandy friend ensures
I’m never mistaken for a holdover,

A vile antebellum auctioneer
Or an ultra-bigot like Archie Bunker—

After my platonic praise session,
My minstrel-cool Song of Songs

(He’s dark-skinned but comely,
Black as a desert tent in Kedar

 Or a caliph’s midnight sash),
Delicate snowflake,

Did you suspect my scaredy-cat ace of spades
Already? Oh, hipper-than-thou,

Liberal-or-less Mata Hari, I surrender:
My Stepin Fetchit friend

Is blunt as a coal-black Baptist bier.
Yes, he’s bullet-riddled & corpse-

Still as cornered little Emmett Till.

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3 responses to “My Black Friend”

  1. Magda Bogin says:

    A killer of a poem. Another Cyrus tour-de-force.

  2. Vivian Norris says:

    Keep rereading it loving it thank you Chris. Powerful.

  3. Another important and heart-rending one, Cyrus. Thank you.

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