Cheryl Clarke


suspended in a trance trapeze like
blankness at the red light
slipping to sleep from this hell
the thousand slights, slings, and piercing
things the children endure post-Brown
due to fortunes of color, the sneer of lips and snarl of larynx
fill my passenger window, on this overcast afternoon—

           ‘Ain’t you that integratin’ nigger?’

while I lift the Colt 45 from its place, and with a fool’s certainty
aim it between the pores of his nostrils:

           ‘And ain’t you that segregatin’ cracker I’m ‘bout to drop right here.’

Cheryl Clarke is a black, lesbian, feminist poet and author of five books of poetry, the critical text After Mecca: Women Poets and the Black Arts Movement, and  her collected works The Days of Good Looks: Prose and Poetry. Her writings have appeared in numerous publications since 1977. She was a member of the editorial collective of Conditions, a  Magazine of Writing for Women with an Emphasis on Writing by Lesbians from 1981-1990. She retired, after 41 years, from the administration of Rutgers University in 2013. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Sinister Wisdom, the oldest lesbian journal in North America and perhaps the world. She is a co-organizer of the annual Hobart (N.Y.) Book Village Festival of Women Writers, which enters its eighth year on September 11, 12, 13 of 2020.  Y'all come!