Summer finds her pregnant again
heat rash zigzags her long neck.

She sings a lullaby to Yoki who gurgles
fat fingers find her baby teeth.

Martin for dinner again is late.
Cabbage and pork chops wait.

Her lemon pie runs, and yellow kitchen
steams like southern sun, a spotless spot.

Walter Cronkite drones on black
and white when

Thunder not from clouds but crowds
of white not rain but insane hate

and fear erupts. Through smoke she sees
her willow blue vase—grand heirloom—
shattered in the rubble of the picture
window blown to tiny fragments.

She watches him rush to her side.
She whispers, dinner is ruined.

Black people come with guns and bats
Men prepared to strike back.

His hand halts them, says
don’t go so low. Let us pray.

They pray through clenched teeth.
Armed black men don’t go away.

They board up plate glass window hole.
Firearms ready these men will stay.

In their room he rocks her to sleep.
She dreams of pink sand beaches
where gulls glide on turquoise sea.
In her dream she promises him

from danger she won’t turn back or flee.

Lodestar: New and Selected Poems

Nagueyalti Warren's picture

Nagueyalti Warren, PhD., is Professor of Pedagogy Emerita in African American Studies at Emory University. She is author of four collections of poetry: Lodestar and Other Night Lights (1992); Margaret: circa 1834-1858 (2008), which won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award; and Braided Memory (2011), winner of the Violet Reed Haas Poetry Award, Lodestar New and Selected Poems (2020), and Witness (2022). She edited Temba Tupu! (Walking Naked) The Africana Woman’s Poetic Self-Portrait (2008), and Critical Insights: Alice Walker (2013). Her poems have appeared in Essence Magazine, Cave Canem Anthology, The Ringing Ear, Obsession, 44 on 44 and elsewhere. A Cave Canem graduate fellow, Warren also is author of W.E.B. Du Bois: Grandfather of Black Studies (2012), and Alice Walker’s Metaphysics: Literature of Spirit (2019). Her current research project is a literary history of Black women writers.

Last updated September 04, 2022