Sedonia Speaks

This poem combines the prompts to write a poem in the voice of a family member, and to write a children’s poem. In this case I offer a message to my infant self in the silenced voice of an enslaved African ancestor, with all the love and gratitude I hold for her.

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you a treasure
by n by
I call the mother
in the sky

 

 

 

her skirt be made
of shell and sea
gather round
you tiny me

see your eyes
so blue n clear
skin as light
as ginger beer

danger comes
hold you close
invisibility
gives up the ghost

sometime soon
I say my name
unwrap my head
mokekere game

gift to you
so strong and free
plant ancestor
ceiba tree

learn to dance
sing out loud
keep the light
wash the shroud

calabash
pull all the tears
shoulda been shed
over the years

hum a notion
bake a pie
shmm
say spirits flyin by

them white folks tried
to bring you down
put your spirit
in the ground

yup they did
the same to me
door kreen open
show the sea

take a good look
at the water
you sweet chile
are the ocean’s daughter

black folks
rise you up one day
send your behind
out to play

dop dip dop
rain come down
clean the blood
from out the groun’

you n me
we hold hands

never
let
go

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Copyright © 2014 Sharon Elliott. All Rights Reserved.

Seatown Elegy

dried snapdragons

dried snapdragons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dragons snapping
teeth all gone
Hendrix rappin’?
brain is broken
not to mention homey hearts
who died here
under flying salmon tossed across
a storefront
or journeyed into the land of Nod
snoring

too soon
a backyard raspberry bush
is parted
juicy swollen red
lush with porchlights
peekin’ through blouses too tight
“all you need is love”
John gone, too
soon soon soon
put some Cobain down in there
Quincy and Ray just pass on by

Genesee Hill
where I was borne
mourns
heterodox doxology
sung in 6/8 3/4 5/5 time

Copyright © 2014 Sharon Elliott. All Rights Reserved.

Knucklebones

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I.
sheeps head cards
a Grandma hand
knucklebone collars
strewn round the throne
poppin gristle
in her jaw
suck her teeth a coupla times

 

livin deep
without the marrow
all the juice run down her chin
wash her hands after

“watcha sayin
don’t whisper it low
shout it out for me to learn”
side eye hidden
behind the door
stomp her feet
to clave beat

II.
there is
an online mahjongg game
she plays when the muse has
left her
and she’s on the way to bed

sometimes
muse comes back to visit
mostly it does not

she wonders
what is the holy grail
loins that demand a tariff
with every thrust
or fine soft rain on a summer night

silence offers its outstretched neck
to a murderous machete
a page turns in on itself
sets fire to the crabapple tree
in the front yard

barbecue breath
between flames
goes out in a conflagration
of wind and wet

well heck
that answer’s just too easy
holy grail requires a death
she thinks she’ll drink
her eternal life
from the sky

Copyright © 2014 Sharon Elliott. All Rights Reserved.

Newcastleton, Liddeslade, Scotland, where my ancestors lie

Newcastleton, Liddeslade, Scotland, where my ancestors lie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

she once forgot
what her work was
labored for many years
extracting money
from a mine
that yields only paper
empty promises
for future comfort

now
she shines
word lights
onto pleasing paper
cerrando puertas
que no sirven a nadie
abriendo la entrada
del jardín
*

Poem Copyright © 2014 Sharon Elliott. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Copyright © 2009 Sharon Elliott. All Rights Reserved.

*closing doors
that don’t work for anyone
opening the gate
to the garden

tank top blues

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born day come
born day go
weavin cloth
of indigo

some say stop
some say go
hoodoo in the garden
startin to sew

nice n easy
take it slow
gooferdust powder
ready to blow

now she holler
now she fret
now she scare up
what she get

twice she scream
three times she chant
call a blizzard
strange rainbow

graveyard pickins
full of woe
stir n thicken
rare gumbo

mojo hand
caint work the stew
gotta think up
somethin new

haint n bogle
bone to bone
dancin wailin
all alone

wind she waiver
deep blue blow
up come underground
tor nay do

what was known
now undone
gris gris bag
n banshee won

Copyright © 2014 Sharon Elliott. All Rights Reserved.