285: Kerosene Litany

285: Kerosene Litany

285: Kerosene Litany

Kerosene Litany
by Mahogany L. 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 sound 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 of their chromosome
a note of inquiry on their tongue

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 time i think my neighbors are nosy

today, i am a cold country, a storm
brewing, a heat wave of a woman wearing
red pumps to the funeral of my ex-lovers

today, i am a woman, a brown and black &
brew woman dreaming of a freedom
today, i am a mother, and my country is burning
& i forgot how to flee from such a flamboyant
Backdraft
—i’m too in awe of how beautiful i look
on fire

"Kerosene Litany," by Mahogany L. Browne , from KISSING CASKETS by Mahogany L. Browne , copyright © 2017 Yesyes Books. Used by permission of the poet.