If You Tell It Backward

Porsha Olayiwola

no black person
alive today can be
found working
at the Hilton.
JT & Al went back
& saw it had been
reconstructed but still
a graveyard.
years before,
the kids are all cuffed
& dragged
into the jailhouse, nude
baring bathing suits,
for a leap into segregation
at a swimming
pool. question:
what degree
is the burn
when acid gets in
the mouth,
in the eye or
on the body?
the girls move
from the edge
where the manager,
James Brock
(that's his name)
pours a bottle
of muriatic acid
into the water.
he starts to lose
(his temper,
his mind, his job,
his man power
built on savagery).
anyway, he gets angry,
because the kids here are
black & ain’t suppose to be
in this pool
escaping, splashing
the burden of a southern
June barking on their bodies,
feverish in their youth,
sugared in sweet sweat,
never telling their parents
they were heading
to the pool
for some fun
to slope the spine.
i can see now
JT & ‘nem
swelling, just sailing,
on a humid day where
the summer swelters
& heat from
the sun glows
the skin jet black.

Last updated September 07, 2022